Welcome to our ‘Spotlight on’ series, where each week we will highlight talent from the region.
Born and raised in Bahrain, Maryam Abdulla Nass received her bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where she studied International Business. She started painting on porcelain at the young age of 15 and rediscovered her abandoned love for art, in 2005. Art became a mean of achieving internal peace and a silent medium for dialogue.
Her paintings portray the general feelings and emotions all humans experience as they go through life, ranging from the darkest times of despair, desolation and grief to the brightest moments of hope, bliss and elation. Her artwork is an expression of an emotions and a glimpse into her inners self. Sometimes, they even offer an alternative to those emotions.
How did you get into art? When did you start painting?
I have always loved art and my family home was always filled with paintings from all over the world. My father would make us visit museums in every country we visited. We used to hate it but eventually I did the same with my children. I started by painting on porcelain when I was 15 years old and then on canvas many years later around the year 2002.
What inspires your work?
Anything and everything inspires me. A photo, a scene, a feeling…
What is the message that you try to convey through your art?
There is no message as much as a feeling. I try to portray my feelings more than a message or a lesson or an image. Many times it is a feeling I wish to feel.
What has been your biggest obstacle to date?
My biggest obstacle was putting myself out there. Being from a conservative family who are all business minded and mainly in construction, art was never perceived as an option. The message I kept getting was if you don’t make millions then it’s not worth it. As time passed and my children encouraged me, I had the boldness to get out there. I always worried about how I would make my family look, finally I took a step towards doing what makes me happy and not everyone else regardless of everyone else’s opinion.
What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement…..I believe its having a piece of me in people’s homes. What better achievement than that! To have people love, buy and praise my art means a lot more to me than any monetary achievement.
Does your culture and background influence your work?
Of course, it does. I’m sure it does otherwise all art around the world would look alike.
What is your favorite art piece of yours, and why?
I have many that are my favorite not any single one. They are like children, can you ever love one more than the other? They each have a special spot and a specific feeling and time period that you relate to. They are like pages of your diary.
Where did you study? Did you study art?
I graduated from high school in Bahrain from IKNS (Ibn Khuldoon National School) and then graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu California. My major was International Business. At the time I was too afraid to speak up and say Art is what I wish to study. It was not one of the options I was given to pick from.
What do you love most about art?
What I love most about art is the freedom it gives me. I do not have to work with words, I do not have to tell the whole story, I do not have to worry about how it is perceived or understood and mainly I do not have to please anyone. Art is purely for me and only me. Being a woman, I sometimes feel I do everything for everyone and many times I am the last to satisfy. Even if I am at a restaurant and my children pick what they feel like having by the time it is my turn, I give up on what I felt like having because there was a lot of food options already and would therefore end up eating from everyone else. I always come last and I always want to make everyone else around me happy, art is the one thing that I can do the way I like it and the way I want to. I don’t have to do it for anyone but myself. I love that freedom!
What do you love about art and artists in the Middle East?
I love artists from all over the world. I believe artists are emotional people and I love people that do know how to show their emotions. I would pick people like that to poker faced individuals any time.
Where would you like to see yourself as an artist in the next five years? What’s your dream?
I would like to see more of me in people’s homes, not only in Bahrain and the Gulf but in homes all over the world.