#OmanPride: Artistic expression meets passion for a cause in Rawan Al Mahrooqi
December 5, 2016 | 10:24 PM
by Khadija Alzadjali / [email protected]

Muscat: Ever since she was a little girl, Rawan Al Mahrooqi had a passion for two things in life: art and the liberation of women.

For the last 17 years, Rawan has observed life around her and is now speaking out through art.

Her latest pieces, which are illustrations, have received more ‘likes’, comments and user interaction than any of her other artwork. Rawan’s Instagram page, rawan757, is more like a professional portfolio of some 200 posts. Her last six posts are illustrated reactions to what she considers to be a regular occurrence in the daily life of Arab women.

At age 24, Rawan began teaching at a local government school. Initially, she taught an all-girls class of sixth graders. Today, she teaches art to a co-ed class of first grade students. Through her professional experience, she has seen the level of enthusiasm change as children grow older.

“Teaching a class of sixth grade girls needed some getting used to. I think the hardest part, as an art teacher and woman, was that they didn’t, and couldn’t, express themselves.

“One of the things I really love about young kids is that they don’t really know the difference between genders. They don’t think ‘she’s a girl and I’m a boy’.

“Whenever we have classes on what they want to be in the future, and a girl says she wants to be a firefighter, I am like, ‘Yes! You can be that!” Rawan tries to encourage girls to not feel different, and that they can accomplish anything, regardless of their sex.

When asked who the girl in her illustrations was, she said, “That’s me. I wouldn’t call her my alter-ego, she’s me flat out. She’s me, and she’s a lot of other girls.”

All the ideas depicted in her illustrations have been on her mind for years. “I’ve gotten a lot of messages, such as ‘keep doing it’. It’s always a big deal when someone says I’ve inspired them,” she added.

Rawan plans on creating more intense awareness pieces regarding women, though not any time soon. According to Rawan, she feels that her simple illustrations have been so popular because they are light pieces and easy to digest.

“I like to keep it simple and straight to the point. There’s no room for misunderstanding when it’s simple. The message is usually the hardest part, because I don’t always know how to put it in words, but the message is always more important than the messenger. We just want to be happy,” she said.

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