How has your art brought about an understanding of yourself/your world?
I was drawn to art from a very young age, I used to draw and do handcrafts at school. But it wasn’t until I was older that I began to pay attention to my relationship with art. It became a vital part of my life. I had to create everyday, otherwise I felt like time is being wasted. Art has taught me to be tolerant and understanding. You can’t produce art and be angry at the same time. I believe art is indispensable in life; it’s in every one of us.
What is your preferred medium of expression?
I work with fabrics most of the time. I design and create handbags, shoes and clothes, so I manipulate fabrics from heavy canvas to chiffon. I love wearable art and always create or customize my own clothes.
I have been drawing and painting on and off and producing different looks and themes. Lately, I went back to painting on canvas with just about any colour I get my hands on; acrylic, dyes, glitter, old makeup and nail polish.
I also make artworks that infuse fashion and textile, buttons, embroidery, ribbonry, painting, printing, digital graphics, curing, sculpting, writing and preserving flowers. Sometimes I mix all that together. I’m now trying to learn 3D cross stitchery. I recently bought a digital camera and while I didn’t intend to pursue photography, I think shooting and editing have unlimited experimenting. Any artist can relate to the visuality of photography.
Do you think that your art changes how people see you?
It depends on the person. People have had different reactions to my art and to me. I don’t deliberately look or behave like an odd artist, but some people have that misconception and see me differently, especially that I produce different kinds of art, so they have a hard time categorizing me. Some are surprised when they find out that I have a corporate job and am not a full-time artist. Art actually helps me in problem-solving. A genius solution will pop into my head when I’m in the middle of working with a hot glue gun and glitter.
Do you think it’s more important to make an impact in your own world or the world at large? How would you/do you do this?
Creating art is therapeutic for me. It’s usually an impulse; I have to do it for my own wellbeing. Once I’m satisfied, I don’t let it end there; I must share my art with the world. If not everyone can produce art, then at least anyone can like it, appreciate it.
What for you is the significance of creating?
It’s a cliché to say that art is therapeutic, but it’s true. It’s my refuge in a way, something that only I can produce so it’s just me and my art there for when I want to be alone. I can’t not be in touch with my or others’ art on any given day. To me it’s not an indulgence, but a necessity. I will create even if I’m on the run. I’ll stop and take a perspective picture with my phone or draw a sketch on the back of my hand or jot down a Eureka.
Even though creating heals me personally, I think it transcends that and I feel a sense of purpose and belonging to a universe of creators.
Is there anything you would like to change about yourself? Why?
I want to improve my stamina, not to be knocked down so easily. Art sensitized me to a point of fragility and this is a weakness. If I let my art consume me, I will not be a functioning person in society. It’s ironic how art is meant to bring out your soft side, but that can be the very thing that brings you down. It’s scary. I’m trying to be more conscious of how I feel when I’m creating.
I also want to read more about my Islamic faith and its beliefs. I think it is a very sophisticated religion, but I have so many questions and I need to figure out ways in which I can apply its teachings to my own life. For example, it calls for empathy and kindness even with those who are undeserving. I’m working on that.
I have a short attention span. I don’t complete a project without having started a new one and soon find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I would like to practise some discipline hopefully without hindering creativity.
Do you believe in actively, consciously trying to mould yourself/self image or do you believe that it naturally evolves?
I’m all about constant change, evolution – even radically. Sometimes I initiate change just for the sake of experiencing it.
I think I must actively work on myself, refine it into its best self. I think it’s unhealthy, even dangerous, to leave it to circumstances to shape who we are.
What are you passionate about?
Creating an impact, not so much a legacy, but even a small – but noticeable – change. A positive thing in this world that others can see, like, use and enjoy. When it comes to art; buttons! I truly believe a single small button can change the world. And recently Haute Couture dress making.
What inspires you?
Intangible things like reading, my travels, the cities I lived in, philosophy, the weather and my previous works. I’m fascinated by how an intangible thought can be translated into a real design with dimensions. I like exploring things and discovering their meaning. And of course Instagram and the internet. I’m such a millennial.
What does spirituality mean to you? How do you bring it into practice?
It means being connected to a one and only mighty creator and translating that into being kind to other humans and myself. I pray several times a day and fast every year and would feel lost without that.
I don’t believe in frontiers or differences. We were brought into this world to help one another and live peacefully. We can have different cultures, rituals and holidays, but it all comes down to unity and respect in the end. I belong to that.
What values do you think society promotes?
Society suppresses or at least doesn’t welcome uncontrolled creativity. Everything has to be labeled and categorized. Even fusion art is given a name.
Then there is the never-ending men vs. women struggle. There are so many feminist movements, yet not all women have rights.
What values do you believe are important to have?
Integrity, truthfulness and maturity to own up to one’s mistakes.
What do you think it means to be kind to yourself?
To allow myself to feel vulnerable once in a while. Standing up for myself and pursuing what I like and not succumbing to how people think I should spend my time and life.
What do you think it means to be kind to others? Are these two practices similar?
Accepting them as they are and not criticizing them let alone trying to change them. I think it’s essential to be kind to yourself first. And of course, sometimes it’s harder to be kind to the ones we love than to complete strangers.
Is there anything specifically you want from life?
I want to have looked back and know that I have lived with purpose and that I lived my own story as opposed to being dictated by norms, society…etc.
Do you think you’re someone others can look up to?
I think so. My work has been published in many places and I have received some very good feedback. Fellow artists have told me that I inspired them to do more artwork. I’m glad my work has had that effect.
Are you who you want to be? Who is that person?
I think I’m getting there. But I keep adjusting that definition of me; it is never static. Overall, she is someone who is trying hard to keep learning and discovering herself and the world, trying to add value
What “words of wisdom” do you live by? Why?
There are several verses in Holy books that teach us to trust in and depend on God. This year alone, I have started doing just that and have seen tremendous leaps in my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to execute alone.
Describe your relationship with yourself.
People have told me before that I’m reconciled with myself. I have my times of doubt, but I pay attention to things like my diet, health, outlook, thoughts and words.
Describe your relationship with your art.
Making art is usually an urge for me. I do it at different times; when I get a burst of inspiration past midnight, need to unwind or think of a solution for a problem.
I wouldn’t say I always critique my art. I actually like it, but it surprises me at times because I would intend for it to be a certain way and it comes out another. I lead it, but it also leads me. I’ll relate more to what the art stands for to me than to what it actually is. For example, a simple button bag, for me, can mean resilience and sticking by one’s beliefs.
Can you pin point a time or mindset where you feel your life brought you onto the path you are on now?
I’m continuously on different wavelengths of awareness. This year I moved from Toronto to Dubai and back again. I‘m trying to live with more purpose and less consumerism; making more wearable art than disposable trend fashion. I have since given away a lot of new unworn clothes and started making beautiful pieces that I hope to keep for a long time.
My art has become more sustainable and I‘m becoming more conscious of the environment whenever I buy supplies or use fabric, heat and electricity.
What are your hopes and plans for the future?
I would like for my art to participate in more galleries and exhibitions. After creating the CANADA 150 artworks and participating in national events in Canada and abroad, I was inspired to give back to the Canadian arts scene. I would also love to collaborate with fellow artists. I am yet to create a minimalist eclectic theme, and hope that an artist somewhere wants to do the same. I think it’s doable. I also hope to continue selling my button handbags and perhaps start a cross-stitch nano-busines.
On the personal front, I’m engaging in some philanthropic work and hope to accomplish a series of non-profit events this year.
Two years ago where did you think you would be now? How does it differ?
I thought I would still be in the same stable job, but instead I am halfway across the globe and in less stress. I am producing more art than I did, and being recognized for it. I’m in fact much happier and grateful for all what has been brought my way.
Where would you like to be in another year?
I would like to travel more though. Perhaps hike around Ontario when the weather is nicer. Or visit Vancouver. I’ve never been to the west coast.