A wide array of students from the four corners of the globe choose to pursue the MA Programmes offered at the Paris School of Arts and Culture (PSAC). In our Alumni Spotlight series we touch base with some of our graduates to see what they are doing today and how their studies at PSAC has influenced their career path. In this edition, we connected with a graduate of our History and Philosophy of Art Master’s, arts and culture writer Rawaa Talass. She is also the founder and editor aRTproject, a daily online platform dedicated to the history of art with a focus on women in the arts from all ages. Read on to learn more about Rawaa’s background, studies and current activities.
Where are you from and what originally brought you to Paris?
I’m originally from Syria and was raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where I still live. What brought me to Paris was a need to feel inspired again and to start a new experience. At that point in my life, in 2015, I had developed an interest in artists and their works and decided to study art history. I was really excited when I got into the Kent programme in Paris, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What attracted you most about studying at PSAC?
I think location was key. For a long time, France had been renowned for promoting its rich cultural heritage through public institutions. Growing up in Dubai, we didn’t have art museums to explore. I wanted to train my eye by observing art as much as I could. One of the nice things about the MA programme was the several field trips my classmates and I were treated to. For instance, if we did a reading on Cézanne, we would go to the Musée d’Orsay to see his paintings and so on. I think to appreciate art, you need to experience it in the flesh..
What were some of the highlights of your experience?
I have many fond memories – from the places I saw to the people I met. Strangely enough, I felt a stronger connection to my Middle Eastern roots when I was in Paris, as there are regional elements in the city’s cultural and architectural landscape — something I wrote about here. So I would say that the highlight of my studies in Paris was meeting Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran for an interview for my MA dissertation. It focused on her patronage of the arts in her country during the 1960s and 1970s. Due to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, her activities were brought to a halt and she is currently exiled in Paris. Looking back, my dissertation was the most extensive piece of writing I ever undertook and it taught me how to be a better researcher.
What are you currently doing and how did that opportunity come about?
I’m a freelance journalist, writing articles on art, culture and society of the Middle East and its diaspora communities, mostly for regional media outlets. In 2017, I was a trainee at the Art Dubai fair, where I assisted in the communications department. Through my work there, I kept coming across the name of a publication called ‘Arab News’, and when I finished my traineeship I sent the editorial team an email pitch. I wasn’t even sure I was going to get a response. To my surprise, I did. In 2018, my first article for Arab News (a Saudi-based English daily newspaper founded in 1975) was published as a front-page story, which was surreal, on the opening of a new arts centre in Dubai. I’ve been regularly and predominantly contributing articles for them ever since.
If you would like to read about a more hopeful and creative side of the Arab world, please visit www.rawaatalass.com.
Connect with Rawaa on her social media platforms: