CCAD Stories: Samiha Hussein finds her home in art
The two places Samiha Hussein (Animation, 2017) calls home, though they are 6,000 miles apart, are not so different. In Palestine, where her family has a home in the West Bank, the weather gets cold, rainy and gray (it’s not a hot desert like so many people believe) just like it does in Columbus. And from her home in Hilliard, she’s only a short trip away from the city and all its trappings. That reminds her of Palestine.
“I miss it so much. And when I’m there, I miss it here,” she said.
It’s little surprise, then, that home has inspired Hussein’s art. Early in her time at CCAD — she arrived in spring 2015 — she created a zine that channeled her political beliefs and illustration skills into one project. The zine, which she created for an illustration class, became a vehicle to tell her fellow students about the injustices she has witnessed as a Palestinian. She depicted the breaking of human-rights laws by Israel and explained the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. Classmates were engaged — and surprised to find how little they knew about the politics of the region from a Palestinian perspective. “People had no idea at all,” she said. Classmates encouraged her to make another zine on the same subject and teach them more. She hopes to do just that.
Hussein was born in St. Croix, a U.S. territory in the Caribbean, and moved to her family’s native Palestine when she was in fifth grade. She stayed there through high school, and then came to the U.S. for college. That marked the start of another journey, this one more inward.
After attending Columbus State Community College, Hussein entered Ohio State University to study microbiology, thinking she might become a dentist. She loved learning about science and has a passion for medicine, but something just wasn’t right. She wanted to tap into her artistic side. And that’s how she wound up studying 3D animation at CCAD.
When she graduates from CCAD in December, she might like to find a job that lies at the intersection of her degree in animation and her fascination with medicine.
“We’re at a time with these new technologies, like virtual reality … it’s so interesting to think what you can do with it. It makes me excited just thinking about it,” she said. But she’s open to just about any kind of work where she can apply her animation skills. “I don’t want to put myself in a box right out of graduation,” she said.
She does have one request, though: She’d like to stay in not-too-big, not-too-small Columbus, where she’s comfortable, close to family and right at home.
Photos by CCAD Student Agency photographer Gail Shamon.
Bullet Journaling: Organizing for Organizers
How does Samiha Hussein (Animation, 2017) keep track of classes, assignments, project goalposts and even shopping? The CCAD student uses a bullet journal — a task-organization system created by an art director — to keep track of, well, everything. “I’m on my laptop all the time. After I’ve been focusing on animation and art, I love focusing on something not on the computer,” she says. “I never used to be this organized. But then I came here and figured out, if I’m not organized, I’m going to fail. I keep better tabs on myself now.”
The basics of Hussein’s journal:
Evergreen space where you can keep tabs on ideas and goals (books to read, movies to see, etc.)
Fill in important dates and events for an entire month.
Get more detailed, listing the days and what you need to accomplish on each day.
You can make a bullet journal as clean and stark or as doodle-filled and decadent as you like. Hussein likes to use stickers, washi tape, colorful markers, drawings, and ample tiny sticky notes to embellish and annotate her journal.
Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet and author
Milt Kahl, animator (known as one of Disney's Nine Old Men)
Samiha Hussein (Animation, 2017) has found deeply personal inspiration in and out of the classroom. Below, she chats about three projects that hold particular significance for her.
One of my first semesters here, I drew a zine about Palestine — the human rights laws that were broken by Israel, shootings and other things that were uncalled for. I’ll be political here and there in my art. It’s there as a medium. The zine was mostly drawings, but there were articles, too, explaining the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. People had no idea about Palestine. They were like, "You’re telling me Palestinians don’t have a military? They’re just all civilians?"
[I made a] paper-cut animation for my experimental animation class. My inspiration was the internal struggle with going after your dreams and the feeling of sink and swim you might experience doing so. It was a memorable project to me because I tapped into two things I was hesitant to do during that time. The first was drawing inspiration from personal emotions and experiences, the second was designing a paper character that resonated a little more with me by giving her a hijab. I was worried about putting these two things into animations because I felt like I was really exposing myself to others in a way that I never had before.
My thesis project is already one of my favorites because I get to really enjoy each step of making a 3D animated short. I get to do everything from storyboarding my script to modeling and rigging to animating. I like the idea of having a hand in every part of a project, and with this one, I get to do just that. At the moment, I'm still working out my storyboard and the timing, but I'm really having fun with it and excited to see this project to completion. This is a pretty big project for me, so I'm setting mini-deadlines for myself over the deadlines already included in the course. I like to plan ahead and see if there's any way I can get things done early. That way, I have more time in case I run into any snags, or at least breathing room when finals roll around. It also helps that I don't find myself scrambling around last minute to get something ready a day before it’s due. Sometimes the mini-deadlines help just because I can push them around without throwing myself off track.