What is your birthplace/nationality?
I was born in Liberia.
On paper, I am a Lebanese American. On the inside, I am global citizen.
What is your birth date?
December 16th, 1970
Where do you currently reside/work?
I live in Mckinney, TX, and work from my home studio in the basement.
Please provide a paragraph, of not more than 50 words, that best describes the concept of your work; in addition, please highlight, in bold, any text that you would like to have included in your press release.
My paintings are a celebration of color and texture. I layer with short and thick strokes on bleeding tissue paper till the color ripples with murmurs, making the subject come alive. Through color, light and composition even the most common places can become uncommon and much more than their parts.
What are your most profound memories of growing up?
Each country I lived in added depth into the understanding of its people and traditions. While I am not a conformist, I can understand how history evolves into the now. This has helped me become more sensitive and appreciative to the various cultures I am exposed to. Born in Liberia and having lived there for 12 years, it offered spontaneity and freedom of the soul. From dancing and celebrating the heavy rain with the locals as they bathed to appreciating various ethnicities’ habits and artistry. In Spain, the contrast from down to earth huts to sky-rises and a touristic paradise was an eye-opening experience. At a young age, it was very easy to blend and become another local with many new languages to learn (Spanish, French and Dutch in addition to English and Arabic). The focus there was on education and being involved in sports and teams. It was a life of liberty and luxury, which ended up juxtaposing my life in Lebanon. After my years of privilege, diving down to a country of turmoil was growth itself. During the war, many days were spent with extended family underground in shelters surviving on candle light, a shared dish, a deck of cards, story-telling, laughter, cotton with rubbing alcohol for bathing, and my sketch pad and pencil drawing even after the candle burnt out. All these memories made me so open to possibilities and left no place for fear. My versatile experiences allowed me to keep an open-mind to experimenting with no boundaries and looking at life in constant awe and magic. It puts everything into perspective when faced with challenges.
What family stories/personal experiences affected you most profoundly?
My mom and dad's approval has always been the first thing I seek, whether I am taking a break from my work or have already completed it. Even when we are oceans apart, I still feel my mama around me in my studio while painting. It’s as if I am having a conversation with her about the painting; with every stroke we laugh together, with every idea we shriek at the discovery, and with every completion I am imagining her broad moon face in full expression. One time on an afternoon, in my late twenties, I had completed a still life of roses in watercolor for my husband to be, I was so over-joyed that I went looking for her in the house only to see her lying down on her side for her siesta in her African house dress. I froze with my painting while waiting for her to wake up, after a few moments she sensed my presence and opened her drowsy eyes only to squint them in approval and drift back to sleep. That was enough for me to walk away with full contentment. She has taught me to be my daughters believers, and make sure I take the time to give my all when they ask for my approval.
Moving to the US has changed the way I feel about people. This country, in my opinion, is one of the most sophisticated when it comes to dealing with one another. Having lived in places where peoples only concern was lurking for survival, naturally, everything else became insignificant and the contrast between how people treat each other here versus there became another important lesson for me. It’s a very generous country even if there's a price tag.
One semester in 2008 at Academy of Art University, I took a landscape painting class. By the end of the semester, I was still so taken by the information that I was not ready to sign up for another class. I asked the teacher, Mr. Jason Bowen, if he'd be willing to guide me further privately, via email, while he was in San Francisco and I in Texas. Agreeing, I would upload my weekly paintings for him to critic and make suggestions. We exchanged emails for one more semester, and by the end of it, he refused to take a penny! He's a teacher I have never met, and still haven't, it was all through the online class experience. Its a pay-it-forward mentality and society.
How has your culture of origin influenced your artwork?
I love color, and love discovering how hues react to one another when placed together. Texture is another fascination and I am constantly learning how much I can do with it. I believe my evolution as an artist is due to my experiences in such diverse continents: African tie-dyed fabric, Spanish folklore, Lebanese Bedouins and architecture, and the open-education in US.
Have there been any dramatic events in your life that have changed/shaped your art?
My amazingly supporting husband, Mark Hamdan, has helped me shape my art world. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have the luxury of time to explore my world. I left my graphic design career when our first daughter was born (8 years ago) to focus on raising our family, and I have since invested whatever time I have into drawing and painting.
What was the hardest point in your artistic journey?
The hardest point is when I have envisioned a painting in my head but it translates differently on the canvas or panel. I would feel so down; even with all the compliments and praise I receive from everyone else around me.
Recently, I have decided to approach my surface with more of an unconscious approach, I apply what I feel and see at that given moment without any planning. So the focus is on the process of making it and what the moment offers. The result has turned out to be quite a surprise, and more satisfying!
What was the most gratifying experience for you as an artist?
Since my paintings are geared towards abstraction/expressionism, I love to see how the audience reacts to them! I am deeply moved by what they see and how they feel. I will never forget when a lady had to look away from a landscape painting because it made her very tearful and close to angry. It’s such a subjective approach. I compare it to the open-endedness of philosophy, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and reaction, and that moves me.
What would you like your art to accomplish?
While painting, I transcend into a higher self and inner peace. I feel one with anything and everyone. Since my subjects are minute windows into nature’s marvels, the fusion of sky, land and water, magnified, I would love for my paintings to manifest into people's spirits with peace, gratitude and abundance. I want my paintings to be their meditative spot away from the rush of life-keeping a balance within.
What do you believe makes your art stand out in the art world?
There is amazing art out there, and I never thought of mine trying to stand out. It’s not a competition otherwise it eludes the purpose of creation. I truly believe that every work done with true love, passion and determination will stand out naturally. Look at nature and see how a branch, a wildflower or a spider fits into nature as a whole, they don't think of what’s around them, they do what they do because they know no other way. I would love to think of my art as a contributor to the whole.