Artist finds meaning working with the visually impaired

(Photos: Handouts from Suheil Baqaeen)
(Photos: Handouts from Suheil Baqaeen)
AMMAN — Jordanian artist, Suheil Baqaeen left a 25-year career in travel and tourism and decided to channel his experiences of the world into teaching his craft to visually impaired children, offering them the chance to showcase their talents through his endeavors.اضافة اعلان

(Photos: Handouts from Suheil Baqaeen)

Baqaeen’s interest in art started at a young age.

He loved to draw on walls and trees and started drawing with his art teacher, who was his biggest fan.

"My teacher gave me great motivation," he said, explaining that they encouraged him to enter a UNICEF-organized drawing competition, where won first place.

Baqaeen has also volunteered with the Royal Academy of the Blind. In an interview with Jordan News, he stressed that it was a great challenge to find an appropriate way to train students in drawing. He also indicated that his first meeting with them was difficult, but that those challenges soon faded.

"I have a dream, I want to see my painting before I lose my sight," Baqaeen recalled were the words that inspired the veteran artist to continue down a humanitarian path.
"One of my goals was to bring children out of despair into a new world full of energy and to fulfill children's dreams," he stated.

(Photos: Handouts from Suheil Baqaeen)

Baqaeen and  his students have organized several exhibitions. The first one was dubbed “Beyond Sight”

"My task through that exhibition was to make the blind, or the ones who have only remnants of sight, paint and feel what they paint," he said.

His Majesty King Abdullah and Queen Rania have visited the academy and even become acquainted with the children and their exhibitions.

"Their visit was indescribable. It gave the students power and hope. They are our most prominent supporters," Baqaeen recalled.

“We have to believe in the blind and believe in our aim,” emphasized the artist.

Ten years ago, Baqaeen founded an initiative called the Abaq Laon (scent of a color). It contributes to improving the students' ability, so blind people can express their feelings, enhance their self-confidence, and integrate effectively in the community. He explains that it adopts this leadership program to help the blind develop their imaginations.

This initiative led Baqaeen to win the King Abdullah II Award for Excellence.

Baqaeen’s work has allowed him to travel the world.

(Photos: Handouts from Suheil Baqaeen)

He conducted a workshop in Havana, Cuba and later went to Mauritius Island where he created a place called the Flying Museum. The museum displays his students' drawings, with an explanation of the artist’s vision under each artwork, in more than one language.

He has also been part of dozens of exhibitions in places like South Africa, Dubai, and Lebanon.

Even after decades in the industry, Baqaeen now continues to refine his skill in his Jabal Luweibdeh studio: “Daret Suheil.”

"The Daret Suheil project is a creative space in which I practice drawing and continue the initiative that I launched years ago under the title ‘Abaq Laon,’” he explained.

Baqaeen also owns “Walk-in Gallery.” The gallery features his students’ drawings in Farah Hospital. Visitors can buy his students' drawings for their patients, to support the artists and offer a creative alternative to chocolate and stuffed animals.

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