It was hard for me to accept that I am an artist, I think, because I had no clear definition of visual art. I was afraid to admit that I didn’t see the deeper meanings more educated people kept referring to in describing the works of celebrated artists. It took me a long time to realize that what matters most in a painting or a sculpture is simply whether it somehow pleases or rewards me to look at it. If it does, it’s art. And if I made it, I’m an artist.
The people who look at my paintings are often similarly insecure. “I don’t really understand modern art,” they say, or “I don’t know what to look for.” I try to reassure them that they don’t have to understand or look for anything, but only decide if they like it. If they don’t, that doesn’t mean they’re missing something. It just means my painting is not for them.
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tafsir almaraghiIn case you are wondering, there are no stylized horses or sailboats in my paintings, though sometimes there are some real leaves. Each painting represents only what I was feeling about color and light and movement at the moment I painted it. Of course, underneath that moment lie layers of paint from many other moments, when I wasn’t yet satisfied. Whether or not they show through, all those layers are very much part of the painting, I think, the same way all my experiences are part of who I am today.
In a museum one day, I couldn’t stop looking at this one very big, very bright blue painting by an artist whose name I wish I knew. There were light and dark shades and shapes coming through one another and all kinds of lovely things going on on that canvas. Part of me wanted to pull it apart, layer by layer, to find out what was really happening back there, to see the brushwork, to get the whole story. Another part of me just enjoyed the view.
In 2005, after nearly twenty years in Philadelphia , my family and I moved to the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati to live and work towards justice in community with friends. Most of the paintings here were made since then. Trust me, there’s nothing in them to figure out. I just hope you like one.