Nadia Waheed

January 5, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
My name is Nadia and above and beyond anything else, I am a painter. My studio and my practice is a sacred place for me to reflect on myself, my life, and my experiences. I want to find peace, and painting is the way I try to find it.
Your works are quite autobiographical, what brought you to that?
It wasn’t really a decision – I believe in making the most honest work that I humanly can. I believe honest work is the best work, it is the truest work. Everything stems from that singular sense of purpose and my work reflects who I am in my present moment. It’s the only place I have that belongs solely to myself, outside cultural and social expectations. As someone who has been very sensitive to the pressures of my family and race (but never bent to them), painting has been the most marvelous liberation for my soul and spirit. My painting is mine, only mine, and has been since I was a young girl.
What are the challenges that came with it?
Honesty is difficult. Facing your own reflection can be very confronting – you might see parts of yourself that aren’t real; hollow imitations of others or maybe parts of yourself that you’re not ready to deal with. Expressing honestly what you think about yourself or how you see the world, how you truly see your family or your culture – it can be frightening, and it makes expressing a feeling even more difficult. My work is not a Fact, my work is a Feeling, I don’t pretend to know anything or to be making any definitive social or political statement. I’m asking questions and simply making the work that I need to be at peace with myself, my human-ness, my mortal-ness, my ego, and my failures.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Landscapes, dimensional space, color. My book club, my partner. The fact that my eyes open every morning. Filling my lungs to the brim with air. I have a deep sense of gratitude that I have been given the privilege and gift that my many years of hard work paid off – all my risk-taking and career gambles. I feel unbelievably lucky that I have a life where I get to just make paintings day in and out. I thank god every moment that I am able to see the shortcomings of my older work, and that I am able to grow and evolve. I feel so fortunate and all of that compels me to make stronger work. The distance I have come in a year inspires me; I wonder where I’ll be in another year. What kind of work will I be making? It’s exciting.
What’s next for you?
More shows. More painting. Pretty much just a lot more paintings. 😁

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