On the occasion of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia’s visit to the United States, the Misk Art Institute and the Misk Foundation is hosting a series of events that put a focus on educating and engaging millennials in tech, art, culture and more.

This week kicked off with a panel discussion at Phillips Auction House. The panel included Matteo Lonardi, Rashed Al Shashi and Mounira Jamjoom. The goal is to connect with our young American population on art and technology. Matteo Lonardi is an Italian photographer, film maker and VR director based in New York and London. Originally from Milan, he graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2014. Since 2010 Matteo has been documenting artists around the world through photography, video and VR.  He is founder of the multimedia project Reframe Iran which won a Magic Grant from The Brown Institute for Media Innovation in 2014. He is currently head of CULTURUNNERS media, directing and producing documentaries for online outlets and television. His written, photographic and video work has appeared in international publications such as BBC, Creative Time, The Guardian, La Stampa, The Huffington Post and Il Corriere Della Sera.   Saudi artist Rashed Al Shashai utilizes found objects and appropriated imagery as conceptual means of identifying the signs of the everyday, creating what he describes as a ‘semantic field’ through which philosophical questions, primarily the purpose of human existence and the functions of society, can be explored. With playful forms, Al Shashai seeks to engage viewers with the signifiers of the mundane in order to facilitate a consideration of what might otherwise create tension, such as the omnipresence of media, a global descent into superficiality, and the growing epidemic of apathy that has come to define modern life. Born in Al Baha, Saudi Arabia in 1977, Rashed Al Shashai holds a Master of Visual Arts degree and is a prominent figure of the contemporary Saudi art scene. As a conceptual artist and arts educator, Al Shashai has been influential to a new generation of Saudi talent while also nurturing local artistic practices as a founding member of the Saudi Arabia Fine Arts society and the Art Education Society. In 2009, he established the Tasami Centre for Visual Arts, an independent space that supports cutting-edge art in the Kingdom, and was the organization’s director until 2014.

Al Shashai has widely exhibited in the Arab Gulf and abroad at such venues and events as The Bates College Museum of Art, Maine, USA (2016); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2016); Low Gallery, San Diego (2016); The Armory Show, New York (2015); JOAU Tunis (2015); Hewar Art Gallery, Riyadh (2015); Hafez Gallery, Jeddah (2015); the Annual Exhibition of Emirates Fines Arts Society, Sharjah Art Museum (2012); and the Ostraka International Forum, Sharm Al Sheikh. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including First Prize from the Media Art Show, Riyadh (2011).

Mounira Jamjoom is a co-founder & CEO of Emkan Education, a boutique education consultancy and school development company. Mounira was previously Assistant Governor and advisor at the Public Education Evaluation Commission (PEEC) in Saudi Arabia and has lead the initiation of the National Qualifications Framework and the Development of the five year strategic plan for PEEC. Prior to that post Mounira was a Senior Research Specialist with the Ideation Center, Booz & Company’s think tank in the Middle East. She was leading the Ideation Center’s research efforts on education, women’s studies, youth development and evolving social issues that have important implications for the Middle East region. Mounira lectures and teaches on a part-time basis. Mounira holds a Ph.D. in Education from Oxford University and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University and a BA in Special Education from Dar Al Hekma University She has written extensively on education in Saudi Arabia, among other topics. ABOUT THE MISK ART INSTITUTE Misk Art Institute is a new cultural organization operating under the auspices of the Misk Foundation, established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Led by Saudi artist Ahmed Mater, the Institute was created to encourage grassroots artistic production in Saudi Arabia and enable international cultural diplomacy and exchange. Focused on establishing itself as an artist-centered cultural innovator, Misk Art Institute will have its headquarters in Riyadh, an artist residency focused center in Abha, located in Saudi Arabia’s southwest region of Asir, and an international office in London. The Institute’s program will incorporate exhibitions and events, artist-led communications and arts education programs aimed at training and investing in the career development of young artists. ABOUT MISK FOUNDATION Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (the Misk Foundation) is a non-profit philanthropic foundation established by H.R.H. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to discover, develop and empower Saudi youth to become active participants in the knowledge economy. Misk specifically focuses on four key areas: education, creative and digital media, technology, and culture and arts. Misk pursues this agenda both through its own programs, and through partnerships with local and global organizations.

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