Hiba Alyawer: Data Architect by Day, Artist by Night
For artists, a full-time job as a data architect at a technology consulting firm may seem contradictory. For contemporary artist Hiba Alyawer, it is the perfect balance.
Hiba Alyawer is an abstract artist, whose work is currently on display as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. She has also had shows in Tampa, FL Knoxville, Tennessee, Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington DC. Born in Iraq, Alyawer grew up in Kuwait and started painting on scraps of cardboard during the Gulf War as a distraction. Her work now features vibrant colors, which she described as an explosion of colors—changing the color palette from dark colors to happier, brighter ones.
She has also worked in technical roles at Booz Allen Hamilton for 13 years, such as SharePoint Developer, Data Scientist, Cyber Security Analyst, and most recently a Data Architect. She was also a recipient of Women of Color STEM Rising Star in 2015.While many may think being an artist and a scientist are flexing opposite parts of the brain, Alyawer has found balance between the two. The structured work environment during the day allows her to find more energy and creativity at night, and push her to be more creative on the canvas, completely flowing with ideas and colors outside of the box.
Not only has Alyawer found her responsibilities at BAH to be a helpful counterbalance to her art, but she has also found the company itself supporting her work. In 2016, her artwork was selected from a staff-wide contest to be featured for leadership greeting cards. She also leads the Yammer group “Art by Booz,” where other creatives in the firm share various artwork and illustrations.
Booz Allen Hamilton has three pillars—the BE3 promise, which “empowers employees to be their best selves, to live our purpose and value, and to create a career and life that’s meaningful to them”:
- Be You | “Bring your whole, best self to work—because when you feel free to be yourself, there is no limit to what you can achieve. By pursuing excellence, serving purposefully, and remaining passionate, you’ll make an impact for colleagues and clients.”
- Be Booz Allen | “Our purpose and values aren’t just words; they’re in the fabric of our culture. When our diverse teams of doers, drivers, and dreamers work together in the relentless pursuit of a common goal, they contribute to something greater than themselves.”
- Be Empowered | “At Booz Allen, you have the power and the responsibility to shape your own journey. If you take advantage of the opportunities the firm provides, we’ll match your ambition for your career and for your life. Unlock your full potential and change the world.”
It is easy to see how these values played out for Alyawer, who has felt “the Booz Allen family have always been interested in the arts and support employees that would like to be involved with creative roles other than what they have been doing.”
When she told her managers about her selection for the Cherry Blossom Festival, leadership was very supportive and showered her with congratulatory messages. Coincidentally, her cherry blossom was installed in front of the Booz Allen office in National Landing, Arlington Waterpark and colleagues visit it on a regular basis.
Since moving to Washington, DC ten years ago, Cherry Blossom season has been one of her favorite events. She credits it as one of the best experiences since 2020, having the opportunity to connect with other artists and celebrating the power of the arts to bring the community together.
Happy Dots Design Statement
“Happy Dots” is a reminder that we are coming out of isolation to gather in celebration throughout the city. Using my signature palette of bold vibrant colors, my aim is to create a sense of joy and energy to attract people into a community experience. Bright colors are seen from afar, as playful marks and dots intended to draw in the festival participants to come closer, explore, have fun, and immerse themselves in its beauty.
Art was my only mental refuge from the earth rattling bombing of Desert Storm when I was a child, waiting out the attacks in a basement with my family. I drew and painted the skies in bullet colors, on whatever scraps of paper and cardboard my father could get me. What I lacked in paint I made up for in vision and feeling love for those around me, fear of the unknown, and the yearn to escape to a more colorful, border-less reality.
My paintings represent human struggle for perfection, but nothing is perfect, as seen in my lines. My artwork shows the paradox between the desire to reach perfection and the unattainable reality. We mold and shape as the occasions change, which gives me infinite possibilities to be expressed on the canvas. For me, it's about shapes, colors, and lines relating to each other. While the lines translate my own personal experiences, color says a lot about my mood as I paint. I'm intrigued by the power of color and give a great deal of thought to what I use in a painting. I always start a painting with red and then let the colors take over.
My hand is guided by colors. My personality is full of color. Scratches and plashes of paint represent life’s unexpected surprises, and most importantly, the different realities that we all face.
Rather than using representation in my works, I take viewers on a journey using vivid, day-glow pigments harmonized with rich jewel tones and metallic accents. There are no borders, no hiding from bombs, and I have grown free of my fears. I use multiple layers to engage one another with varied textures, and with the rich colors, paintings morph under lighting and viewing angles - as though the pieces are as alive and ever-changing as the emotions and memories that they represent.
Booz Allen Hamilton is a 2011 Arts + Business Partnership Award Honoree. The company continues not only to support its employee artists but also to use the arts to spark important conversations around inclusion within the STEM industry.
Images courtesy of Hiba Alyawer.
Artist Hiba Alyawer poses in front of brightly colored canvases in a studio