Graduating this spring with a degree in art and a minor in English, Farrah Alkhadra reflects on her time at Florida Gulf Coast University with gratitude and growth. “I took a good deal of English and poetry courses, both of which gave me incredible perspective,” Alkhadra says. “Creativity in literature benefited how I conceptualize and discuss my own pieces. It is incredibly important to have the ability to converse about your work and intent, and this is still an ongoing learning process for me as my work evolves.”
Showcasing “Colorway,” a wall-size installation developed with glass and resin and built in-place for FGCU Senior Projects exhibition, Alkhadra radiates with pride at the final display and effect of the piece. “I am indescribably happy with the outcome of the installation and how each color reacts with light,” Alkhadra says. “I am continuing to experiment with various new shapes and layouts. My next pieces will be for outdoor installation where color can interact with daylight.”
Finding her way to FGCU while visiting friends during high school, Alkhadra recalls taking the time to explore the campus and the nature trails. “I even sat in on a marine biology and nature writing class.” Alkhadra credits that early introduction for chiseling her path to the university. “Those professors were very kind to let a non-student sit in and even answer some questions. I instantly fell in love with the personality of the campus and the hospitality of the educators.”
During high school Alkhadra was deeply interested in building and creating things that could spark excitement and dove into every college-level art class in sight. Fine-tuning her creative process, it became clear that her art was very well received, and Alkhadra set her sights on creating art as a career. “Once people I knew commissioned me for custom pieces, I improved my creative process and devoted myself to becoming a working artist,” Alkhadra says. “Then, applying to a university and pursuing art gave me extra confidence as an artist and professional.”
Further confirmation of her talent came when she received the Kevin S. White Memorial Art Scholarship, for which she had to submit samples of her work.
Expanding her palette upon arriving to FGCU, Alkhadra was recommended for the position of lead gallery assistant during her freshman year. Expressing gratitude for the connection so early on in her college career, she describes how working in the gallery helped to shape her journey. “Experience in the gallery contributes to how I create work — I visualize how it may appear on the wall or on a pedestal,” Alkhadra says. “Craftsmanship is extremely important to me. Viewers want to see that you care about the object you are making — I believe that if you care about your object, it will reflect in how it is perceived.”
Understanding the value of that perception and how the art impacts the viewer is one of the aspects of developing the large-scale pieces that Alkhadra enjoys the most. “Working at the galleries has also offered me experience photographing artwork across all media, which directly improved how I capture my own pieces. I use the best photos for my art Instagram, which connects me to other artists and the public.”
After wrapping up all of her projects and graduating the first weekend of May, Alkhadra plans to continue working at the FGCU Art Galleries for an additional year, staying closely connected with the local art community. “I’ll also continue to work with Artis Naples as a contracted art handler,” Alkhadra says, emphasizing the skills she’s acquired in working with packing, showcasing and storing her own art. “Creating work for myself and for others to enjoy and hopefully sell is the goal for most working artists.”
Describing the process of creating “Colorway,” Alkhadra approached her senior project with a plan to weld steel and create sculptural geometric work.
“My initial design was symmetrical and reminiscent of mandalas. After a day of experimenting in the studio, the symmetry fell away and evolved into an abstracted explosion of shape and color. I revisited color theory and incorporated colors that would recede and push forward. In specific areas, I stacked red in front of or nearby blue to emphasize the perception of depth and motion.
“The pieces were made using an MIG welder and sanding equipment. Incorporating color into my designs called for the unique properties of resin — it’s versatile and fairly user friendly. I was able to control the color saturation and hue using bottles of concentrated resin pigment.
“The finished components were arranged in a way that imply outward movement and expansion. The legs of each piece are inserted directly into the wall and project out into the space by approximately 10 inches, with some components projecting more than others to create overlapping areas.
“I lit the installation using flood and spot lights coming from different angles to create strong cast shadows and color reflections. The resin interacted with the gallery lighting in a way I could not anticipate. The variations within the mixed resin created textures that were unique to each component. In some shapes I see patterns that remind me of the bottom of swimming pools, the surface of water and the bending of light. This was only revealed to me after installing and lighting the piece. The inability to completely see what I’ve made until the very end of the process is very surreal and exciting to me.”