Driving Ms Khan

Did you know that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia? It’s not a law, per se, just custom that has impacted the lives of all Saudi women. Areej Khan (above) recently completed her thesis, “We The Women,” for the MFA Designer As Author program (presented at the Thesis Forum on April 22 at the new SVA Theater, above and below, with co-chair Lita Talarico). The project is a campaign to fuel the debate about women in the driver’s seat: It’s started to garner a lot of press, including this segment on NY1 and this one on CNN (be sure to flip through the commercials). The project was also written up on Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog here.

Here’s a part of the NY1 transcript in a report by Stephanie Simon: “Areej Khan used to dress like a man to be able to drive in her native Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive. Now, instead of covering up,
this student artist and activist is encouraging women to stand up for
the right and to sit behind the wheel. It’s all part of Khan’s master of
fine arts project, which is on view at the School of Visual Arts
gallery on West 26th Street. Through her website and
downloadable bumper stickers, people participate in the “We The Women”
project by putting their own thoughts into the idea bubbles.” (Photos by Dohun Park)

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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