Omani artist creates a series of coronavirus-related artworks to send a powerful message about staying home

'These kind of artworks send messages and create an awareness about sanitising and staying at home,' says Asma Khamis

Art comes in many forms. An artist’s inspirations evolve. For some, it’s a skill to hone. For others, it’s a reaction, an expression of deep emotions and a form of therapy. For Omani graphic designer Asma Khamis, it’s a bit of both.

"I started in the graphic design field four years ago, but there was always a relationship between me, art and colours since I was a child," she tells The National. "I always believe that I have an extra eye, which makes me see the world differently, so I turn what I've seen into art by drawing, painting and designing."

Khamis, who is her final year of university where she's studying physics, struggles to define her artistic style. “It’s hard to describe, because it’s part of me,” she says. “It’s just like my spirit. But I always say ‘it’s weird, but you want to see it again’.”

It's a true statement. Her form is simplistic, but her use of colour catches your eye. And her current series of coronavirus-related artwork is particularly striking.

“It’s inspiring,” she says of the current crisis. “It gives artists an area they can work in. In other words, they creatively deliver the important information about the virus to society. These kind of artworks send messages and create an awareness about sanitising and staying at home.”

One in particular, shows a bottle of hand sanitiser in an engagement ring box, a hand reaching out, as if proposing marriage. She created it as a way of consoling brides who have had to postpone their weddings, but also to demonstrate how sanitiser has become more coveted than jewellery in our societies.

Another, entitled Cure of Covid-19, depicts an Omani man who's sharing a fictitious cure to the virus via WhatsApp with friends and family. In Arabic, it says: "Olive oil, garlic and ginger. That's the cure of Covid-19." Khamis explains: "This is inspired by the voice of old Omani women who believe in the traditional methods."

Tomorrow, which shows a woman sat inside a padlocked box watching Netflix, with the words "stay home" in English written across the top, is about how we have to be more careful than ever. "Just close the door, please, and use your time to do something you love or at least watch a movie," says Khamis. "I name it Tomorrow, because I hope tomorrow comes without corona, so I can open the box."

She also draws on Middle Eastern pop culture for her inspiration in this series. For instance, in Covid-19 vs Diet, the words in Arabic translate to "What diet you're talking about?". "There is an old song that says 'what love are you talking about?'," she explains, adding that now all we can focus on is our diet (or lack thereof).

"It just happens in one moment," Khamis says of her artistic process. "In one special moment the idea just pops up in my mind and the next moment I start turning it into an artwork."

All of these and plenty more can be seen across Khamis's social media accounts, including Instagram, and people looking to buy her work can message her directly for prices.

“I welcome all of you,” she adds.