Hayat interviewed multimedia artist Salma Arastu about the spirituality of her art, her inspirations, and more.
You have a unique and rich cultural and religious background. How does this background influence your art? What are some of your most frequent or powerful influences/inspirations?
I have been a spiritual person since childhood. I could communicate with my God and simultaneously draw and paint for hours. Though I was born Hindu but my mother’s teachings were very spiritual. She always said that we are all children of one God. Her faith was like a rock, and she guided me to bring God’s love in my life. I was born without fingers on my left hand, and she convinced me that I am given this life for a special reason. Art became the vehicle for me to know myself and my God. I always believe that I was born with two wings, love for creator and love for creativity. My works are inspired by my faith. Islamic values are the most important to me and I am especially touched by two major principles of the faith.
Allah is One, abstract, formless and beyond imagination and secondly God has created such diversity among humans, and He commands them to live together in harmony and turn towards Him with praises to establish unity. So, through calligraphy I was trying to pay my gratitude to Allah and with the same lyrical line, I started doing these connected figures as if I wanted to bring the whole world together. As if I want to spread Allah’s love by bringing people together with this single line of positive energy. Allah wants us to live together and share together and thus I recreate these visions which show people in celebrations, visiting neighbors, and family reunions, celebration of life, glow of unity and the hope of the new earth.
More recently I have been inspired by verses from Quran which speak about ecological consciousness. Through my contemporary series “Mycelial Flow” and “Tiny Creatures: Our Invisible Sustainers”-I have found myself immersed in research in an attempt to gain deeper knowledge in science and faith in order to find remedies to save our planet and its ecosystems.
You also work with multiple forms of media, including poetry. Do you have a favorite? What was the first form of art you got into?
Painting became my need at very early age. I could draw and doodle with continuous lyrical lines moving on the rhythm of my own soul. Thus, each of my work is “Offering” to my God- it is the result of my mediation and dialogue with my Creator and for me the act of art-making is a devotional act. An energy I cannot define inspires me to fill the surface of the canvas with moving lines and penetrating textures. I apply layers of colors and then embroider them with pen and ink. The different layers bring out subliminal images. In my studio mysteries are revealed each day and I feel awed and inspired to delve further into the unknown fearlessly and look out for new visions emerging on my canvas. I can’t deny painting is my first love.
Is there any form of art or medium you don’t enjoy? Why/why not?
I don’t think that I don’t enjoy any medium of expression! I love sculpture, printmaking, mixed media, video editing and digital manipulations. Poetry flows out effortlessly at times and express my thoughts which perhaps I can’t paint.
What do you hope to communicate with your art? Who is your target audience?
I want to spread message of love and hope and universality of humanity through my works. My audience are spiritual anywhere.
Check out more work from Salma Arastu on her site.
Check out other multimedia artists here.