Fadwa Al Qasem
I Am what i art
Confessions. Art Journaling. Art. Writing. Poetry. Play. And everything life in between.
I tried to stop, I promise you. Many times. The more I read other people's work, the more artwork I saw, the more I felt my work was lacking. So I decide to stop. And I do. For a day. Maybe two. But I always relent. Never as a result of super strength, will power, hard work, perseverance, or determination. And not because I fall victim to the just show-up-and-do-the-work-every-day mantra. I relent simply because the urge to create is too powerful and it grows stronger the more I try to resist it.
I write and create because I can't not write and create art, and along with this urge comes the need to share (publishing in whatever form) and the need for recognition. But I'm not interested in the forms of recognition that bring their side-kicks of stress and anxiety. Rather I want recognition the way I like to define it. The way that best nurtures and sustains me.
So what is ecognition in my eyes?
#1: If It Touches Your Heart, It's Recognition
Because when you receive cards, emails, messages and have conversations with people who tell you that you've touched their hearts, they touch yours. And when younger people tell you that you're amazing and so they want to be amazing, too, it touches your heart.
#2: If You're Having An Affair With Mark-Making, It's Recognition
Because if you simply must write or create art in your journals or on the wild wild wild internet, you recognize the joy of mark-making as a basic human instinct, and in return these marks bring you recognition of the value of your experiences - even if only for yourself.
#3: If You're No Longer Wondering Who You Are, It's Recognition
Because it could be that nothing in life matters as much as knowing yourself; this is where you will find your Buddhism-ness and resilience. Creative work allows you to see your own true colors. It tells you things you cannot see reflected in the mirror; things your mom and your best friend won't tell you.
#4: If You're Feeling Free, It's Recognition
Because writing and creating art allows you to surf, experiment, play, fall, whirl and spin around, and let all judgments hit the fan! It recognizes your life for what it is at that moment, and for the freedom of mind and spirit you allow into your world.
How about you, how do you define recognition?
Every morning I look at my body in the mirror. Some might already find this statement shocking, sensationalist, egotistical, provocative. In truth, it is none of that.
I’m not looking for flaws.
I’m not searching for ten affirmations to repeat to myself ten times a day. (I'm sick of the word affirmations, anyway).
I’m not looking to condone or abuse. I’m look at my body and I can’t think it’s embarrassing, ugly, or even beautiful - by whose standards, anyway?
I look at my body to see all of me. To be grateful. To remember that this body is also my mind and my spirit. The whole connected package. Rather, the one. Not a package, but the single form that is everything.
I look at it and I realize I would be nothing without it. I could do nothing without it.
How can I listen to those who say I should be ashamed of it?
And so was born my artwork Chaos of the Body Series #2. Some feel these images are too sexy. Others tell me I am courageous to create and post them. And others think they are offensive. But the series started out as a tribute to cancer survivors and thrivers. And especially as a tribute to my grandmother who lost her battle long ago against breast cancer. As I created more and more of these women, and they began to populate my studio, I realized they are a tribute to all women.
This artwork is not about perfection. Or beauty. Or sex. They are about everything it is to be woman. My pieces are about taking charge of your own body. About freeing your mind from all the taboos connected to a body you did not choose but in which you will live for the next few decades. About this tangible form which will give you so much strength, joy, movement, pleasure, and pain. About how you connect with your own body, and how you choose to treat it and think of it.
This body will teach you much if you let it.
It will take you places, if you stop thinking about it as a monument or a temple or a place where taboo terrorists hide. If you stop using it as a tool to manipulate yourself and others, or to damn, hate, belittle yourself and others. Once you simply let go of all negatives and positives about your body. It’s a tool for living a life that will fulfill you, if you stop thinking of it as something separate.
Once you realize it is what it is. This is not your body. This is you.
Have you struggled with body image? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
When I was a teenager, the last thing I wanted was to be like my patents. They seemed too old. Too boring. My sixteen year old self wanted adventure. Travel. Great new things. And my patents, well, they seemed routine. Set in their ways.
Now in my fifties, my mum in her seventies and dad almost ninety, there's nothing more I want than to be just like them!
Spending each summer with them as an adult meant that I got to know them and understand them better. And I'd like to share with you Three Things I Learned From My Parents:
1. Hobbies are the true elixir for a long life.
Having a hobby is aboutvhaving an open mind. An eye for beauty, and a sharp, imaginative spirit.
My father walks every day. He reads, he writes articles that are regularly published in newspapers. He remains a human rights and Palestinian rights activist whose opinion is sought by peers and youth. My mum is an amazing and talented fibre arts artist who creates works of astonishing beauty.
2. Your sixteen year old self lives on forever.
It's not about the time you have, it's about what you do with that time. Dreaming and planning, laughter and a sense if humour. A sense of adventure and wonder that never leaves you. My parents still dream of returning to Palestine. They still plan trips and dream of visiting places and taking cruises. They both have so many projects in progress and continue to dream up more.
3. Abundance is about generosity of spirit.
Mum has taught many young Morocan ladies cooking and knitting. She shares ideas and recipes and inspirations. She offers love and affection and her infectious laughter.
My dad's open mind means he's always wiling to listen to opposing views without judgement. And he's always ready to learn something new from his youngest grandchild.
I hope one day my kids will find something to learn from us, too. Meanwhile, as I carve my own wild gypsy spirit path, I am also grateful some genetics have kicked in!
Fadwa Al Qasem
Email me if you are interested in purchasing my art.
(c) Copyright Fadwa Al Qasem 2015