Celebrating Artistic Diversity: Illuminating 20 Years of Creative Exploration at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore Beaconhouse National
Celebrating Artistic Diversity: Illuminating 20 Years of Creative Exploration at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore
Beaconhouse National University, located in Lahore and known as the first Liberal Arts University of Pakistan, holds a prestigious position in the contemporary art scene. Over the past twenty years, its multidisciplinary pedagogic approach has empowered graduates with diverse perspectives, enabling them to connect with the contemporary art world. This year, the Mariam Dawood School of Visual Arts & Design (MDSVAD) marked its 20th Anniversary with a grand Degree Show, showcasing the work of 113 talented students at its dynamic campus. The show, which opened to the public on June 17th, 2023, was a spectacular celebration of diversity. It featured the creative endeavors of graduating students from four departments: BFA Visual Arts, BA (HONS) IEDA (Interdisciplinary Expanded Design & Art), BDES VCD (Visual Communication Design), and BDES TFA (Textile, Fashion & Accessories Design). This Degree Show was the result of meticulous conceptual exploration and experimentation, as students incorporated a wide range of mediums and materials based on their individual choices. The diverse art projects captivated audiences from all walks of life, further enhancing the university’s esteemed reputation.
The research projects of BFA Visual Arts displayed the outcomes of rigorous theoretical and studio-based practices, addressing contemporary needs and expanding the horizons of art and design. This approach encouraged a visual dialogue that transcended restrictions, enabling students to engage with problem-solving and pursue research in their unique domains. Notable among the projects was Amna Abbas’s interactive installation of bright neon lights, which served as a metaphorical gateway to her personal expression, drawing upon her nostalgic subliminal experiences. Amna’s project became a focal point of attraction and a popular spot for visitors to take lively selfies, multiplying its impact within the show. Mehwish Iqbal explored her memories by incorporating cutouts of familiar objects in repetitive layers, creating multifaceted illusions. Dorji Nidup, on the other hand, delved into non-representational textural narratives with philosophical undertones, using minimalistic color palettes and formal compositions to transform everyday conventional objects into visual accounts. Zahra Jokhio’s colossal installations, made from self-created surfaces and second-hand materials, highlighted the interplay between eastern and western influences, contextualizing colonization, post-colonialism, and global cultural exchange. These conscious presentations by the graduating students added a new dimension to contemporary art practices, showcasing their ability to manipulate visuals and engage viewers on multiple levels.
The research projects of BA (HONS) IEDA focused on re-conceptualizing contemporary design and art practices through investigational methodologies, progressive strategies, and innovative skills. The program’s customized structure provided students with diverse experiences to expand their research based on personal engagement and choices. Amna Shahzad’s campaign, titled “The Augmented Atelier: Stitch and Switch between Reality and Virtuality,” explored the synergy between visual narrative and emerging technologies in the fashion world. Her merchandised campaign for Rastah showcased a virtual workspace for digitally created garments, incorporating augmented and virtual realities to create an intensified impact. Sara Asif Malik’s project aimed to cultivate emotional intelligence among children by using board games as a local reference for learning, offering alternative teaching strategies to enhance engagement and emotional intelligence. Zuha Farooq’s environment-friendly campaign, “Spirulina Algae: The Future of Breathing,” highlighted the benefits of algae as a carbon dioxide scrubber and provided insights into its cultivation at home, addressing an urgent need of the time. Meanwhile, Zuha Tareen incorporated clinical objectivity into everyday objects, infusing emotional catharsis into her interdisciplinary project and adding a poetic subjectivity to her work. The diversified nature of these projects broadened the intellectual horizon and offered a wide range of practical and technical solutions through interdisciplinary approaches to design and art.
The thesis display of BDES Visual Communication Design presented purpose-based design projects integrated with progressive technology. Equipped with both conventional and advanced skills, the students showcased their design sensibility through interactive projects, such as motion graphics, game design, and animation. Aneezah Tahseef’s app, “Sheesh Mahal: A Glimpse into the Mirror Palace,” aimed to create an online platform that disseminated information about the decorative scheme of Sheesh Mahal inside Lahore Fort. Through professional photography and illustrations, this project creatively engaged with the historical embellishments, shedding light on the technical aspects of their creation and making them accessible to people from their homes. Khadija Tayyab’s intriguing project highlighted Lahore’s walled city, offering a virtual tour of its historical attractions through an interactive design lens. Novera Tariq explored digital media and the entertainment industry, establishing an online agency for building a community with Gen Z through VTubing. This progressive project encouraged VTubers to participate in gaming and entertainment, pushing the boundaries of design. Talha Humayun’s campaign focused on life quality in Lahore and global warming, spreading a sense of responsibility among people to find alternative ways of creating an eco-friendly, sustainable system that could restore nature for a better future. These humanistic design solutions addressed contemporary needs and demonstrated the practicality of the investigated projects.
BDES TFA (Textile, Fashion & Accessories Design) offered specialized studies in textile and fashion, providing students with enriched experiences in their chosen fields. The showcased thesis projects reflected their practical exposure and personalized choices, considering the demands of the fashion world. Muskan Ali Saleem’s project, based on personal experiences, highlighted the concept of displacement and its impact on individuals and societies, employing various mediums to create awareness and promote empathy. Rubab Zahid’s “Nostalgia of Dastarkhawan” sensitively showcased this traditional and captivating craft as a unifying element within families, reinforcing the importance of Dastarkhawan in Pakistani culture amidst the presence of modern alternatives for serving food. Similarly, Palwasha Nadeem used photography as archival material, reliving childhood memories of her hometown Jalalpur Bhattian to represent spatial memories and celebrate joyful moments through the lens of cerebral psychology. In addition to these notable projects, Fasiha Omer’s “Ori-Garments” and Mahrukh Bukhari’s “Galactic Barbie” demonstrated bold and futuristic choices in response to the evolving demands of the fashion industry. These projects incorporated contemporary trends, offering new horizons of exploration, creativity, and execution.
In summary, this Degree Show provided a comprehensive experience of creativity, showcasing the talents of the upcoming generation of artists and designers who have made progressive decisions under the guidance of expert advisors at Beaconhouse National University.
Farah Khan is an Assistant Professor in the Visual Arts Department at Lahore College for Women University, Lahore.