salma Kamlesh arastu

Open Studios Hours May 13/14 and May 20/21, from 11am - 5pm

My works are lyrical, spiritual, figurative, and calligraphic. My paintings reveal stories of unity in diversity, hope and connection, celebration of earth and women. I like to work in series and these series are evolved from each other. My new works Series are bridging Science and Faith creating a visual discourse that bridges science, religion, Islamic diversity and diaspora, language engaged with the plight of humanity, the soul, and the soil.

Arabic Calligraphy, miniatures, and the folk art are strong influence on my work. I have tried to bring together Eastern spirituality and Western techniques of painting learned over the years. Through the contrasting elements in my work, I yearn and search for unity and balance.

My story begins with line and the lines that I create represent the spiritual energy that emanates from soul. My method is a physical and meditative process that fills each canvas with moving lines and multi-layered textures. For me creating art means getting physically involved with the piece: scratching, sanding, layering materials like paper, rope, modeling paste, paper-mache or copper plate, and embroidering with pen and ink. I apply thin layers of acrylic color in between adding textures and this working process brings out subliminal images. I also paint with rust pastels, use jute twine rope on handmade Korean paper Hanji, and apply glaze to seal everything. In my studio mysteries are revealed each day and I feel awed and inspired to delve further into the unknown fearlessly and look out for new visions emerging on my canvas. I want to introduce my two current ecologically conscious series of contemporary paintings, “Mycelial Flow” and “Tiny Creatures: Our Invisible Sustainers.”

I have immersed myself in research to gain a deeper knowledge of science and faith to find remedies to save our planet and its ecosystems. My research led me to discover Mycelia- the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments. Through my explorations in these life-giving networks under our feet, creating visual images of these connections and collaborations satisfies my soul. I hope to bring humanity together with lessons learned from nature. The Tiny Creatures series visualizes microbes as integral to our ecosystem. These tiny creatures, microbes, are sustainers in the ecosystem. I feel Intrigued and inspired by their story and have created a body of work to draw attention to them. I use thin acrylic glazes and pen & ink drawing to create a visual language for the intricate relationship between creatures swarming on my canvases in chaos-like compositions. These works are imaginative and spontaneous and bring energy and hope. I feel blessed because I was born with two wings- the urge to create and a love for Creation. Both these gifts have been sources of eternal joy and a constant flow of positive inspiration in my life. I work daily and hope to spread the joy and blessings I have received through my work.

As an internationally exhibited woman artist I bring a unique global perspective due to the fact that I was born into the Sindhi and Hindu traditions in Rajasthan, India, and later embraced Islam and moved to USA in 1986. As a woman, artist, and mother, I work to create harmony by expressing the universality of humanity through paintings, sculpture, calligraphy and poetry. Inspired by the imagery, sculpture and writings of my Indian heritage and Islamic spirituality, I use my artistic voice to break down the barriers that divide to foster peace and understanding. At birth I was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, I was able to transcend the barriers often set-forth in the traditions of religion, culture, and the cultural perceptions of handicaps. My works are lyrical, spiritual, figurative, and calligraphic. I have tried to bring together Eastern spirituality and Western techniques of painting learned over the years. Through the contrasting elements in my work, I yearn and search for unity balance. My works are greatly influenced by my studies and experiences in different cultures around the world. After graduating in Fine Arts from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, India, I lived and worked in Iran and Kuwait, where I was exposed to a wealth of Islamic arts and Arabic calligraphy. Calligraphy, miniatures, and the folk art of Islam and the Hindu tradition continue to influence my work today. I was invited to Germany twice, first as a Resident Artist in 2000 at Schwabisch Gmund and again in the Spring of 2011, by the Westphalia Wilhelm University in Münster, Germany invited to publish my paper “Art Informed by Spirituality” in the publication on the International Symposium: ‘God Loves Beauty: Post Modern Views on Religion and Art. I have presented my work and given talks at Stanford University, Commonwealth of San Francisco, Seattle University, Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, and Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, St. Louis Missouri. I was invited to Morocco for a one-month Artist Residency Program in March of 2018 through Green Olives art Gallery. As a visual artist I have had 45 solo shows nationally and internationally and have won several prestigious awards including the East Bay Community’s Fund for Artists in 2012 and 2014 and 2020. The City of Berkeley’s Individual Artist Grant Award in 2014, 2015, and 2016. I have public art pieces on display in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and San Diego, California and I have also written and published five books on my art and poetry including my recent with ecological consciousness from Quranic verses “Our Earth: Embracing All Communities.”

Location and Contact Information

Studio or Exhibition Space
2547 Eighth Street studio 37, Berkeley, CA, USA
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