What was your project about? Why did you choose this topic?

My personal project was about creating pottery that includes elements of Islamic art. I chose this topic as it was an opportunity to develop or add to new skills, and take up something completely foreign to me.  With this, I immediately had a project in mind - pottery. Out of all the types of visual arts, I chose pottery because it has a historical past in many regions, reflecting the conditions and evolution of a culture. It's still a medium of visual art, but something I have never tried before, which fulfills my learning goal. I’ve lived in a primarily-Islam country for a few years, and knowing that there’s a stigma surrounding the Muslim population and the Islamic culture is just extremely unfortunate and undeserved. I hoped that through this project, people can appreciate cultures more for the beauty that is represented in art. 

What was the most challenging part of the project?

The most challenging part of my project was practicing to create my final product. I had to undergo multiple lessons, consisting of different topics, to assist my learning. I started out first with introductory lessons, including hand-building. After this, I practiced with a wheel, but only forming small and simple pots, such as plates. Along with my instructor, we moved to practicing with my design, which was more complex than the others I had made. This meant making multiple pots before the final one. Sometimes I would think that the pots I had made before were already alright to submit, but I thought that "I had already gotten this far, so I can't give up now."

What was the most rewarding part of the project?

The most rewarding part of this project was surpassing my main challenge. I would easily get tired and bored, especially because travel to the pottery studio took a while. The multiple sessions took time, money, and effort. However, repetition is still key to making the best final product you can make. Because of the determination I tried to keep consistent throughout this process, and attempting to do the most to achieve my product and learning goals, I know that my final product was my best work.  

What did you learn from doing this project?

In terms of my product, I learned how to create pieces such as bowls, plates, and vases, both through hand-building and on the wheel. Through the research I conducted, I learned about how rich Islamic art and history is, dating back to centuries ago. There were different countries that applied various technology and represented themselves in different ways through pottery. In the process of writing my paper and practicing, I learned about the importance of consistency and following deadlines, since it helped me greatly with finishing on time and not having to be stressed with something that I was proud of doing. 

How did this project help you develop your approaches to learning (ATL) skills?

The ATL skill my Personal Project focused on is research and thinking skills. In order to achieve my learning goal, I would primarily make use of research skills. Upon making the decision that pottery is what I would have to work on for my personal project, I knew that I had absolutely no background knowledge. Despite being in a visual arts class at the time, and having basic knowledge in drawing and painting, I did know however that pottery is a completely different type of art. It uses unique mediums, equipment, and techniques; I knew that it would take commitment to acquire these skills. This would explain why the most important skill that was applicable to this project were research skills. 

Once I was done with my notes and research, out of anything I used thinking skills the most to exhibit this information on my final product, as well as my practice pieces. I used a digital art application to help with my design, and incorporated parts of existing art that I have seen  in my childhood, such as the wall art and lights of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

How did this project connect to your personal interests and passions?

Aside from the main reason why I chose this topic, this project is quite personal to me because I have always been interested in the different mediums of art, especially sculpting. A few years ago, I took up painting with watercolor and acrylics, and last year, I was in Visual Arts. I was thinking that this project will hopefully help improve my skills regarding different mediums, color theory, and expression. 

What advice would you give to other students who are working on their Personal Projects?

One piece of advice to give for students starting on their Personal Project is to perhaps choose something new to do. If you choose something you know you love, constantly working on it and writing a paper on it might be tiring. Choose something new that you predict you'll enjoy, as this gives you an opportunity to explore new hobbies that you might even continue after this project. Another one is, while expected, to use your time well. You're given around a year to finish this project for a reason. There will be many steps you have to take in order to finish the product itself, and the paper as well. With that being said, stick to your Action Plan, and while making it, try to be realistic with your personal deadlines. Lastly, keep in constant contact with your supervisor. Schedule regular meetings with them, and ask them for help if you need it. Their experience will help guide you in making your product and writing your paper, so don't wait for them to reach out.