IllumeMag: Salma Arastu: Art Lives in the Lyrical Line

salma arastu
Salma Arastu

“I have been labeled in so many ways: a Muslim artist, an Indian artist and a woman artist.”

Born into a Hindu family in Rajasthan, India, Salma Arastu’s passion for art was with her from early childhood.  After she embraced Islam as an adult she had the opportunity to live in both Iran and Kuwait before settling in the U.S. in 1987.  Her travels through the Muslim world are reflected in her art which has a pan-global appeal.  Arastu is a truly a prolific artist.  Her impressive body of work includes paintings, sculpture, digital art, greeting cards and even poetry.

Arastu’s main website features many of her pieces, some of which are startlingly modern despite their traditional cultural and religious subjects.  She keeps her art in line with Islamic rulings about showing faces, representing her figures without faces which arguably makes them even more personable.  Rather than having a visage imposed upon them, viewers can see themselves and their loved ones in the figures, allowing themselves to be moved by the overall composition instead of focusing on facial expressions.

Despite her natural artistic ability, Aratsu struggled for many years to find her voice and establish herself as an independent artist.

I have been labeled in so many ways: a Muslim artist, an Indian artist and a woman artist.  I used to wonder why there were so many labels and at the same time I wanted to find an artistic voice that was uniquely mine.  After I visited India in 1991 I was re-exposed to the culture and I was so inspired that I returned to America full of humanity that and with the need to express that humanity through my work.  After that time I was able to infuse my work with a peace and joyful feelings that people have told me they can feel when they look at my art.

Your True Greetings has been Aratsu’s bread and butter during the time she has established herself in the U.S. The site features  greeting cards, calendars and inexpensive prints which are as beautiful as any of Arastu’s gallery pieces.  Founded more than seven years ago in Pennsylvania, the small business started out of the trunk of Arastu’s old Volvo with the aid of a generous patron and gradually grew to an international business that can sustain her pursuit of high art.

Arastu has recently released a new book entitled The Lyrical Line, the term she uses to describe her artistic inspiration.  The book contains reproductions of her artwork along with a collection of meaningful poetry inspired by unity, diversity, peace, spirituality and also reflections of the Divine that dwell within us all.  It is a testament to a lifelong artist who’s vision has evolved becoming ever clearer, ever brighter, and ever more human through the years.

Currently Salma Arastu resides and works in Berkely, California.

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