We had the good fortune of connecting with Shermeen Sidiki and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shermeen, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art has always been my passion. As I was growing up, all I was interested in was making drawing from my story books or from magazines. I didn’t think art could be a career but nothing else interested me. My dad encouraged me in art, though not as a career but surely as a hobby. I was surrounded by Afghan rugs at my home and I would observe its design. Not knowing this could be a beginning of my passion. After coming to the USA, my husband encouraged me in making drawings and pursuing this career. After around 15 years of practice, I finally discovered what I liked to draw and it came back to the traditional Islamic arts inspired by the Afghan rugs. I discovered that there are not many muslim artists in Dallas in the art world and I wanted to change that. I wanted to go to galleries, exhibitions and festivals and show my art. I felt that there was a missing link of muslims in the art world and this was my chance to be creative.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is inspired by Afghan rugs and Turkish tehzib art. I wouldn’t call myself a very traditional artist as I like to have abstraction in my art. My main focus in my work is showing movement. I want the viewer to move their eyes around my art so that they can discover hidden details. My work is on dark background and I used soft pastels for bright colors and golden ink to show illumination. I started making this art not knowing where will this take me. I entered in an art festival in Dallas, without knowing anything about festivals but I jumped right in. I made many contacts in that festival and doors of opportunity opened for me. I entered in art exhibitions where I won several awards by the grace of God. Receiving awards boosted my confidence and I started receiving emails from people around the world appreciating my work. That gave me more reasons to keep working on my art. It is not easy to get inside the art world in the USA these days, as it is all about contemporary work. The galleries and designers are looking for non-traditional work. I have learned that one needs to be well connected to know about opportunities and one should be able to speak their minds. I though art is about making, but it is a lot about speaking as well. Your words will reach places before your art can.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love visiting Dallas Museum of Arts. They have an amazing collection in European art section. My next stop would be Kimbell Arts Museum in Fort Worth where they showcase masterpieces of European art from Michelangelo to Mattise . While in Fort Worth, one must see the stockyards where the western heritage can be felt. Dallas has amazing food variety. The street of Addison is filled with several restaurants, just walking and choosing where to eat is an event for the day. If in mood to eat traditional Pakistani food then my favorite restaurant would be AlMarkaz and after the food, we have to go to Agha Juice for a traditional sweet falooda drink. We have Grapevine Lake that is really nice to go for a boat ride and jet skiing. A picnic at the pontoon boat with jet skis is the most exciting plan for me. If my friend likes to ice-skate then we can also go to Galleria Mall for some skating and shopping.
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?
My husband, Rizwan Uqaili, came to know about a weekend course happening in California by two European Artists, Adam Williamson and Richard Henry, from the arts of Islamic Patterns. My husband sign me up for the classes and took care of my kids while I traveled for the weekend. That was the beginning of discovering my style. That weekend class in Zaytuna College brought me so much pleasure and success, all thanks and praises God. I still take classes from Arts of Islamic Patterns and hope to go to London to get a degree from there some day.
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