Ana Escobar Saavedra, b. 1978, Cali, Colombia.
Lives and works in Dubai, UAE.
Ana Escobar Saavedra has a cross-disciplinary practice, working on the frontiers of art, craft, and design. Born and bred in Colombia, after living and working for three years in Italy and 13 years in France, she moved to Dubai in 2020. Her work has been featured in different printed publications and has been selected for group exhibitions across Europe, Colombia, Argentina, China, Australia, the USA, and the UAE.
For the last few years, she has combined a personal studio practice alongside research, writing, and other professional projects in a range of fields such as fashion, art, and trend forecasting. Ana has a background in fashion and textiles and goldsmithing and currently, she is pursuing an MA in object and jewelry from MASieraad in partnership with Hogeschool PXL in Hasselt Belgium.
“Almacenar: to contain, to protect, to preserve, to categorize.”
I didn’t have a deep personal interaction with the Arab world before coming here, even though I was living for many years in a very mixed-culture neighborhood in Paris with all kinds of descendants from different parts of the world including Arab countries. But as a child in Cali – Colombia, I remember loving the delicious “comida árabe” cooked by my grandfather’s second wife, a descendant of one of the Lebanese families that had established in my city around the late XIXth century and the beginning of the XXth century.
“Being born in a country that has been stigmatized and reduced to a certain imaginary spread by the world media, I have promised myself to never assume anything about a place I haven’t experienced personally, but to be honest, I had mostly been exposed to the Bling side of Dubai so I was determined to discover the city through another perspective. I had been exposed through the cinema and art exhibitions to some of the cultural traditions of the region, but the Arab world is big and diverse and, during all the years that I had been away from home, I was more preoccupied to inform myself about Latin American arts and culture as I was trying to stay connected to my own roots. The fact that the Emirates has such a variety of nationalities has given me the opportunity to discover not only the local traditions but also the South Asian culture so unknown to me too.”
“Coming to Dubai was completely unexpected for us as a family. My husband got an opportunity with his company in 2020 just before the Covid-19 pandemic. I was sad to leave Paris, because It had taken me so long to adapt to such an amazing but not always easy city, and after 13 years I was finally feeling “established”. But when the pandemic hit I was really grateful for the opportunity of a new adventure. We said yes without knowing much, so I started looking around the net about what was going on with the arts in the UAE. Before moving, I did one short trip in February 2020 and visited several art institutions and galleries and remember feeling relieved finding a variety of interesting places and programs taking place. I felt I would be nourished by art from lands I didn’t know. The fact that the fields of art seem less “categorized” than in France, made me feel that there were possibilities for introducing my niche practice of contemporary jewelry into the wider arts spectrum, but while being here I had the opportunity to go back to study and I have found myself exploring all kinds of different mediums and formats, so my practice is changing and I’m embracing that process.”
“I guess the biggest surprise I had in arriving in the Emirates was my connection with the landscape. Being born in the tropics where the flora and fauna are so abundant I never thought the desert would have such an impact on me. My work has always been more about the relationship between people and the objects that surround them in a very domestic sphere. While working mostly with “natural” materials, nature itself or the animal world has not been directly explored in my pieces before. I think being around for years of what is considered a “rich nature” was so normal to me, that I was not looking at it anymore, while here a single tree in the desert catches all my attention. Trained as a goldsmith I guess I’m attracted to what is rare. Also, the fact that there are people from so many origins practicing their own faith and cultural traditions in a concentrated amount of land is very interesting and inspiring to me.
In my work, I explore the different rituals and objects that accompany us in the celebration of being, from birth to death and the imprints that we leave behind us.”