We had the good fortune of connecting with Farzana Razzaque and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Farzana, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have always been drawn towards the visual arts. Following that passion, I enrolled in Architecture school and pursued that interest with a desire to formally educate myself on how beautiful and visually appealing spaces can enhance livelihoods. Many years later, after a brief period of teaching, I returned to art. The passion grew stronger as I found more people with similar interests who were either teaching art in academia or had their own galleries. I developed and strengthened my artistic skills and was surprised at the positive response I received from people when I would share my art. With the introduction of the internet in my early development, I was able to quickly get my work reviewed, critiqued, and even promoted to people all around the world. Then came social media, and I entered a whole new realm where artists, enthusiasts, collectors, admirers, could see my work and share pictures of my pieces. The medium to reach people with my creativity grew exponentially. In days rather than months or even years, I could get feedback from large audiences on what they liked or disliked about my work. Suddenly, someone like me who didn’t have much capital or business experience could reach thousands of people who love the same creativity. I could showcase my work in minutes with minimal cost. I realized that my passion for art and creating art was highly sought after. People were curious about my process, the mediums I used, and the symbolism and history behind a piece. The field of Islamic fine arts in North America and especially in Texas was at a fledgling stage. The art scene in Dallas was lacking in the Islamic Fine arts and I felt that my art form was ready to be acknowledged and received.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As an artist, I aim to merge the traditional art practices of the Islamic worlds, such as tezhip (illumination art) and Arabic calligraphy, with contemporary mediums, and agendas. I see art as a spiritual agent of change that can break down cultural barriers.
This means that I spend the majority of my professional time producing commissioned and personally inclined artwork that reflects these goals. Since my art form is not commonly seen in North America, especially in Texas, I also find it necessary to educate audiences on the subject of Islamic fine arts. Part of this includes participation in local art shows and exhibitions. I also hold talks, workshops and private lessons that are catered to a variety of age groups. While previously these were all conducted in person, they have in recent months moved to online platforms. Art appreciation is learned, and as a teacher, I actively encourage awareness of how art can alleviate and enhance our quality of life.
Establishing myself as an artist with something worthwhile to share has taken time and much effort, and has not been a smooth ride. While larger artworks have a heavy and immediate presence, my art is at a small, very personal scale, heavy with history and symbolism. Educating people on that has been extremely rewarding.
I am also an avid and faithful student of art, especially traditional forms. While technology has been advantageous, many long-established ways of making art, such as manuscript illumination and handwritten works of calligraphy have been sacrificed along the path to modernity. I have sought to educate myself from Masters in the traditional arts, in an attempt to enhance an understanding from original sources. Master Calligrapher Haji Noor Deen and Master Illumination artist Fatma Ulusoy Sirajuddin have been wonderful teachers and mentors in my search for knowledge in these areas.
It is really thrilling to be amongst an emerging number of artists who seek to grasp on to those art forms and practices so that they remain for future generations. There is a renaissance of interest in the Islamic Fine arts occurring globally and in North America. Dallas especially is fast becoming a hub. Artists and organizations such as the Deen Arts Foundation of the Dallas Fort Worth area, are endeavoring to cultivate the Islamic Fine arts here and reintroduce it to the public.
It is extremely pleasing to see the results of hard work slowly emerging.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The variety of eateries is absolutely amazing in the DFW area. From local to ethnic food, from barbeque to Thai food, to Indian and Pakistani restaurants, you can go to a different restaurant for every meal of every day of the week. The Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, and the Museum of Biblical Art are wonderful places to visit for art lovers. Downtown Dallas has architectural wonders such as the serene Thanksgiving Chapel by architect Philip Johnson. There is so much to see and do in Dallas and just a week would not be enough.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to not one person, but one support system. That support system is my family. They have been the ones who cheered me on and encouraged my work. They have remained steadfast and patient through stressful times. My family members have been models of resilience and examples of how hard work always results in success. I am forever grateful to them.
Facebook: FMR Art
Luqman Irfan, Farzana Razzaque