We had the good fortune of connecting with Salma Arastu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Salma, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I consider the risk as opportunity and often I opt for it.
Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Georgia O Keeffe
I love this quote and I believe in it too. 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.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As an internationally exhibited woman artist I bring a unique global perspective due to the fact that I was born into the Sindhi and Hindu traditions in Rajasthan, India, and later embraced Islam and moved to USA in 1986. As a woman, artist, and mother, I work to create harmony by expressing the universality of humanity through paintings, sculpture, calligraphy and poetry. Inspired by the imagery, sculpture and writings of my Indian heritage and Islamic spirituality, I use my artistic voice to break down the barriers that divide to foster peace and understanding. At birth I was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, I was able to transcend the barriers often set-forth in the traditions of religion, culture, and the cultural perceptions of handicaps.
My works are lyrical, spiritual, figurative, and calligraphic. My paintings reveal stories of unity in diversity, hope and connection, celebration of earth, and women. Though abstract in nature my paintings carry content and concept. I like to work in series and these series are evolved from each other and continue my intention of seeking oneness connecting humanity, soil and soul.
Arabic Calligraphy, miniatures, and the folk art are strong influence on my work. I have tried to bring together Eastern spirituality and Western techniques of painting learned over the years. Through the contrasting elements in my work, I yearn and search for unity and balance.
My story begins with line and the lines that I create represent the spiritual energy that emanates from soul. My method is a physical and meditative process that fills each canvas with moving lines and multi-layered textures. For me creating art means getting physically involved with the piece: scratching, sanding, layering materials like paper, rope, modeling paste, paper-mache or copper plate, and embroidering with pen and ink. I apply thin layers of acrylic color in between adding textures and this working process brings out subliminal images. I am also painting with rust, pastels, and using jute twine rope on handmade Korean paper Hanji and finally applying glaze to seal everything.
I would like to introduce my two current ecologically conscious series of contemporary paintings “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. My research led me to discover Mycelia- the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments. Through my explorations in the realm of these life-giving networks under our feet, creating visual images of these connections and collaborations satisfies my soul and I hope to bring humanity together with lessons learned from Nature.
The Tiny Creatures series visualizes microbes as integral to our ecosystem. These tiny creatures, microbes, are sustainers in the ecosystem. I feel Intrigued and inspired by their story and have created a body of work to draw attention to them.
I use acrylic thin glazes and pen & ink drawing to create a visual language for the intricate relationship between creatures swarming on my canvases in chaos like compositions. These works are imaginative and spontaneous and bring energy and hope.
I feel blessed because I was born with two wings- the urge to create and a love for Creation. Both these gifts have been sources of eternal joy and a constant flow of positive inspiration in my life. I work every day and hope to spread the joy and blessings that I have received through my work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would like to take her for a walk around the Bay where I live in Emeryville! Then I will take her to my favorite museums and galleries in the city like De Young, SFMOMA and Minnesota art project galleries etc. I would like to take her on Route One drive as I love the sights of Pacific Ocean and Rocks, some galleries in Oakland on 25th street and in Berkeley drive around university campus and visit The Berkeley Art museum, walk on Albany bulb or Tilden park. I will certainly take her for dinner at some Mediterranean Restaurant in the city or treat with Cheeseboard Pizza in Berkeley!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband Alamdar Arastu
Salma Arastu-Paintings Alamdar Arastu-Salma’s portraits