London Link Celebrating Mothers Issue 2013

Page 17

page 17 // volume three, issue three

Muslim Heroes Exclusive

Nadia Janjua Nadia Janjua is a professional artist and architect by training based in the Washington, D.C. area, working for Nadia J Art. MH: Your profession is not a very common one in the Muslim American community, why did you decide to get into art? NJ: Well, I’ve always been naturally inclined towards the arts, and it was only a matter of time that I recognized the best thing I could do for myself was to use my gift in the best way possible; to create more opportunities for reflection, gratitude and beauty. MH: Where do you find inspiration from for your art work? NJ: Life and all the awesomeness of it. Ever since I can remember, I have been reflective of the human experience, from its chaos and despair to its magnificence and beauty. I’m always searching for insight and understanding, and any simple event or moment can lead to the concept of my next painting. MH: Do you feel there is a revival in appreciation of art in the Muslim community? NJ: Absolutely. I remember being at Islamic conferences and being the only artist present with a booth or an exhibit ten years ago, but now you go to these events and you have artists headlining and giving speeches, with booths representing the creative fields all over the bazaar. My clientele population has changed drastically from parents and friends of parents commissioning me for work as a favor, to young professionals hiring me to design their marriage certificates, eid cards, or making custom paintings as gift or to be placed in their own homes. Although our community has a long way to go, I’ve definitely seen a shift in mindset where art is being seen and appreciated less as commodity, and more as a service to society. If this much has changed in ten years, it’s pretty exciting to think of what the next ten years will bring. I’m optimistic, and it’s a good time to be an artist (though honestly, any time is a good time to be an artist). MH: Some say art is a way to express emotions and feelings. Has your artwork done the same for you? How has your art

allowed you to express yourself? NJ: All of my work is very personal to me, and essentially, it is my soul coming through. I learned how to express myself with colors and forms before I did with words, so painting and drawing have really just been a natural extension of my hands and my inner workings. Articulating emotions through words is an entirely different challenge. I think my work has evolved into more abstracted work particularly because of this. Expression is so incredibly unique and personal, ambiguous and ever-changing, so all I can really expect is to be able to share it and hope that the viewer will bring his or her own interpretation to it. The goal isn’t for them to match their expression with mine, but to be catalyzed to express their own reaction in their own way. MH: Some Muslim artists make the distinction between being a Muslim artist vs. an artist that just happens to be Muslim who is inspired by his/her faith. In your opinion, is there a difference? NJ: That’s a really great question; there’s really no right or wrong. But my opinion is that there is a difference. I attempt to live my life with the most consciousness that I can, so I try not to do or be anything just by default. While making “Islamic art” or paintings with Arabic calligraphy is not my focus as an Artist, I would most definitely call myself a “Muslim artist” because my inspiration stems from my spirituality and consciousness of God. Having said that, I also don’t separate my identities of being a Muslim, an artist, or even a woman; they are all inherent to who I am and I don’t feel I’ve ever had to censor or filter myself because of any one of them. Alhamdulillah, my parents raised me in an open and nurturing environment, and although I experienced the typical American-Pakistani-Muslim identity conflicts from time to time, I never felt the need to express one identity over the other. I was always encouraged to be close to my heart and express my own ideas of who I was. MH: What advice would you give to those who would like to pursue your career path? NJ: The advice I would give to others, and myself, would be to create discipline

in your life and put in the hard work to find your voice. The work that is truly interesting and has longevity is the work that is honest and authentic, but none of it will come to surface without hard work and commitment to your art. MH: Where can we learn more about you and support your work? NJ: You can view my creative work at: and view my art products for sale: // Saud Inam Founder of Muslim Heroes, Saud Inam highlights the contributions of modern, everyday heroes to communities all over the world. For more information visit:

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