A 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl is the youngest cartoonist at Kuwait’s first International Caricature Forum, director of the forum and artist Jamal Al-Lahu said at a press conference. Zakia Al-Mahdi, a tenth grader whose caricatures are among those displayed by over 200 cartoonists from around the world, was recognized by a number of veteran artists in Kuwait.
Becoming an artist is no longer an individual task. Today, the art industry requires joint recognition from specialists, the community and the media, something Zakia achieved very quickly and made it this far. The honor she’s been given needs to be followed up by taking the responsibility to maintain it through self-development and producing more art. “I don’t see myself as an artist. I’m still discovering things through trial and error. The title came to me from people I highly respect, which makes me honored.” Zakia told Kuwait Times.
Her family undoubtedly plays a major supporting role. “She’s the only girl among two brothers, and she used to draw on almost everything!” said Dr Huda Al-Mahdi, Zakia’s mother. “It annoyed me a little, but I never stopped her from ruining wallpapers, blankets and pillows, as I kept on telling myself that maybe one day, she would grow up and thank me for this. Here I see the fruit of my patience. We’ve noticed her talent since she was three years old. Her talent is rooted in the family and it wasn’t so surprising,” said Zakia’s mom.
In fact, many children at this age have the gift of drawing and innovative thinking. However, not every parent can understand this and give it more attention. “What encouraged us to take her talent seriously was her self-motivation and dedication to learn and practice by herself. Zakia is self-taught, and because of her dedication in building her drawing skills, we agreed to provide her all the tools she needed no matter the cost. She even encouraged me to take up drawing again,” added Zakia’s mother.
The young artist did not neglect the great role of her school teachers, who also encouraged her. “Ms Sara Abdulraheem is my spiritual mother. She’s been by my side since the beginning. Also, I will not forget my other instructors whom I owe a lot to – the head of the art department at my school MsJawaher Al-Muhanna, Ms Lamia Shaaban and Mr Ali Awadh. One of my teachers, Jumana Al-Obaidi, involved me in a local short film which has won an award,” said Zakia.
“I don’t only draw caricatures, I make satirical short films as well, and you can check my films at @koki_yousif on Instagram. Beside this account, I use my personal account @koki_almahdi to post some of my drawings.” Zakia added. “I’ve participated in many school exhibitions, but with the help of my teacher Ms Sara, I held my first solo exhibition outside the school environment, which was a personal turning point. The exhibition was seen by several veterans and well-known artists like Sami Mohammed and Bader bin Ghaith. The latter invited me to take part in Mohammed’s ninth art forum. Bin Ghaith also contacted my father to take his permission to let me participate in the Kuwait International Caricature Forum. I’m so excited!” exclaimed Zakia.
Everything is evolving around us, and our children are abreast of these evolutions, and it is worth paying attention to what they say and do and learn from them. Dr Huda, Zakia’s mother, advises parents, particularly mothers, to take what they’re saying seriously. “We didn’t learn to think outside the box – our children taught us this. They shouldn’t be too concerned whether the child can reconcile between studies and hobbies. If the children are serious, they will gradually balance between the two with our assistance. Most importantly, if you don’t sense a passion, don’t force one on them.”
By Athoob Al Mahdi