RRHS graduate / professional illustrator offers scholarship
Some of the Class of 2006 from Rio Rancho High School may remember Zahra Marwan as a calm and shy girl wandering the hallways or perhaps as a gifted student.
Turns out the gift was in the arts and, thanks to her success as a professional illustrator, she hopes she can be an inspiration to others with a shared passion for the arts: she is offering a scholarship to $ 1000 unrestricted fund studies for anyone pursuing the arts. and currently junior or senior in high schools in Cleveland or Rio Rancho.
She remembers not hearing much encouragement about her passion when dating RRHS.
“When the day came to meet with our high school counselors to discuss our future, I wanted to study photography, or hoped to be shown what is possible in the arts,” she recalls. “I was told, ‘Most of the gifted program students go on to become doctors or engineers,’ and I was transferred to another advisor who suggested that I try ‘international business’, since I was bilingual. .
“I was completely unaware of the hundreds of serious and different career paths that existed in the arts,” she said, but I quickly had a few opportunities to start a career. “I couldn’t take out a loan to study at the art school that admitted me to Boston, (so) I maneuvered through UNM to study abroad in France, mainly learning of the Paris museums and the brief art school program I attended, which are often equal to our in-state tuition or free. “
She improved her artistic skills, but wasn’t sure if this was a way to make a living: “(I) took a difficult path trying to establish myself in the arts, not having had the support. or proper counseling in high school despite being in the gifted program.
She said RRHS arts teacher Matthew Lutz “let me do some independent study with him after my senior year, which was great. … (But) other than an uncle who was an electrical engineer who exhibited his paintings internationally, I couldn’t see a viable way to make a living.
“I didn’t go to an art museum before traveling after high school,” she added. “Growing up in a suburb, I wasn’t exposed to art other than my high school art class – and an older brother who truly believed in independent arts.”
Proud of her roots in the Middle East, she incorporates her Kuwaiti trends into her daily life.
She would like to see others, perhaps even having been little or no encouragement to follow in her footsteps: “I hope this small scholarship will help give confidence to a young person willing to pursue the arts.”
Of course, there is no guarantee that they will be able to have exhibitions of their work in Italy, London, Kuwait, as well as Grand Junction, Colorado, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, as Marwan did. Nor will they win eight awards for their work, as she did, including one from the Frankfurt Book Fair (Germany).
Her work gave her an international touch – and she did an artist residency in her native Kuwait.
Tap into the past
She remembers a time in her childhood when she considered being an “ophthalmologist or fortune teller, maybe a music teacher”.
Then, she graduated from the University of New Mexico, cum laude in foreign languages and literature, with minors in philosophy and “Flamenco, concentration in dance”.
Because she managed to make her dream come true, she says this scholarship idea will appeal to high school students, “hoping they will travel to see art, buy supplies, take workshops and give them a list of resources.” local. I hoped this would encourage young people in an environment that mostly underestimates the arts and humanities.
Now living in the Barelas neighborhood in southwest Albuquerque, she has found that Duke City values the arts.
“Many officials in the city of Albuquerque encourage creative practices,” she said. “I was selling at farmers’ markets and the Railyards; I have done things for book festivals, cultural festivals – I am very grateful to have jobs like this and private commissions.
Last year, the Albuquerque Community Foundation commissioned Marwan to create a play for its year-end campaign.
“We asked him to illustrate hope,” said Denise Nava, director of communications for ACFR. “She is incredibly talented and a very kind person.”
Marwan said she had been influenced in her art by several famous illustrators, including Sir Quentin Blake, an English designer, illustrator and children’s writer. With over 300 illustrated children’s books, including 18 written by Roald Dahl, he won the biennial Hans Christian Andersen International Prize in 2002 – the highest recognition given to creators of children’s books.
So she knows she’s in good company: “It’s amazing that this has happened – it started slowly.”
She was due to present a solo exhibition of her work in Florence, Italy, “but the coronavirus has struck.
“My picture book is still in progress – it’s lyrical non-fiction, about 32 (of my illustrations) in a 40 page book. I have written it; it is about 300 words long. Working with a copywriter and marketing manager has been an amazing process. It should be released in late summer or early fall, ”added Marwan. “It’s amazing – it was like a dream to draw and write.”
And probably still an occasional nightmare for a counselor who suggests she look for something else to pursue after high school.
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