Mariam Arshad

Artist’s Statement:

My artistic journey is influenced by the aesthetics of culture. My inspiration comes from what I see, feel and experience from which I create new concepts through visual narratives as influenced by my experiences. Discovering the differences from the cultural perspective of overseas cultures, having their own unique differences, engages my artwork with the goal to build strong relations by understanding their similarities from different angles. All nations have their own symbolic languages, and I focus on making new symbols and patterns to build harmony between them so deliberate ties are visible.  

Final Project: Coinument

I was inspired by the traditions of the Sienese horse race, the Palio, in which all the contrada neighborhood groups take part. After the Palio, the winning contrada creates a special commemorative coin for its members. The custom of the coin really inspired me and it remind me of the coins which my father and I carved in bas-relief as way of honoring our modern iconic figures in Pakistan. I made a coin artwork for the winning contrada as symbol of a monument and a medalion, open to different interpretations, to honor the iconography and traditions of the victorious Tartuca contrada.

 The city of Siena for me resembles a spiral maze which I have associated with the walled city and center heart of the city. This artwork summarizes my overall experience of the customs practiced in the Tartuca contrada.  The coin is engraved with my designs and symbols that resemble a spiral shell of a tortoise. I chose to use the spiral shell to create a 3D relief as a platform to hold the coins. The final outcome ended by resembling the shell of a tortoise. Similarly the horseshoe represents “good luck” and protection from evil. Both cultures which I have experienced and observed (Pakistan & Italy) use this symbolism. In my work these horseshoes represent all 17 of Siena’s contradas. Overall the installation composition has fully depicted my experience in Siena and the Tartuca contrada..


What is art for you? What do artist do? What is the purpose of art?

What is art for you and what artists? 
Art for an artist is the most valuable asset as a career and as individuals,  it is the power medium to say things which can’t be said in words. 
Every art is inspired by many art movements and history as the narrative and concept changes through time. The idea and philosophy behind it has various meanings which create patterns:  for artists, art is about how to use a space to form and set a patterns or questions in their own creative way. Conor Oberst said, “art is essentially communication. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum which is why people make art so others can relate to it.”  Art is a documented narrative and visual commentary which creates a dialogue within multicultural societies and communities both existing and imaginary. 
As the world is very diverse, series of events take place which cover a wide range of global concerns such as the refugee crisis, migrations and various stories on various aspects. Artists are individuals who are often obliged to speak in favor of humanity’s benefit and to highlight the sensitivity of societal issues.  They are more morally obliged to reflect the concerns and solutions to the masses through visual forms. The role of an artist is very important as they are free thinkers who bring forth new ideas and issues which are commonly brought forth yet ignored. Artists use visual as a language to bring forth the matters of concerns to educate the public. In contemporary works, words have had an impactful response from the masses. Visuals such as paintings and posters have been carried out simultaneously by artists as it has been since the time of biblical paintings and the Renaissance. In contemporary and modern art, current affairs have been regarded as common subject matters for artists. Artists like every citizen are heavily affected by the changes and events which take place within a society, their works are seen as a voice for the public which allows new ways of seeing and interpreting.  Young artists can also benefit by looking studying their expressions and creating their voices in their own manner. 
Art throughout the years has been modified as new ways of expressions and are often introduced and used which is how art has made expression more carefree and open-ended . It is through their art that an artist is recognized and stands out as an important asset for a society. 
-> What would you say is the purpose of art?
Art aims to awaken our unconscious thoughts, questions and emotions; it digs up memories which are uncertain, yet they act as a tool to connect to certain objects or narratives. Art is something we experience more and control less, we have more freedom to view, admire and appreciate art. For an artist, the freedom to communicate leads to a broad range of perspectives and concepts about how their art can be felt in a painting or any art form. Therefore in order to look at an art piece we cannot see it as an object. This point is important as “theoretical knowledge” and “experience-based knowledge” are two different concepts.  
Jonathan Edwards wrote about this in his sermon A Divine and Supernatural Light:
“There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind.The former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the latter. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.”
Similarly art deals in sensations and experiences, art is about experiencing things. Experience includes everything we see, feel, hear and touch within ourselves or are surrounding. As people, we witness activities and find ourselves engaged to it, our engagement towards an activity generates the experience. 
Art assist us in experiencing truth, when we see things or meet people we try to connect with what we know and question. The common question we find are what is right is right and wrong? What is the truth or whose truth is the real truth? Picasso defined art in this way: “art is the lie which is used tell the truth.”  This phrase takes his idea to a whole new level. The simplest explanation can be that art allows an artist to express his version of truth, which may be different to someone else. Picasso once used a pigeon as symbol of peace however pigeons are also a common prey by most people who shoot down birds. This contradicts the meaning and purpose. Even so, different groups of people often disagree on truth. 
Art is a way for an artist to express themselves in anyway they wish, which is what makes them free and art subjective.  It is the subjectivity which gives artists freedom to express their views and concerns through art. Works of art produced are strongly influenced by the surroundings which cover all sorts of political, social, environmental issues which are displayed and produced to convey the message as favorable by the artists. The interpretation changes as various opinions are added which highlight the significance and importance of the subject matter and the overall composition .

Mid-Term Project: Hatches:

This art work named “hatches” inspired by the 12 gates of Sienna and the 6 outlived gates of walled city of Lahore, each gate in the walled city faces the direction of the nearest city. The art work (Hatches) I have devised is merging the both elements of the walls of Sienna and Walled city of Lahore to form another lone architectural design.
The Lahore’s gates are inspired by Mughal and Persian architecture. Similarly Sienna recognized as a primitive town enclosed with Gates which used to entrance of the city. 
Meaning of my artwork (Hatches) referred to small doors which build for the purpose of starting auspicious journey, every country, city or a person always associated with hatches. 
In my research I found that doors of walled city build from one fort and after covering the whole city ends where it started. In my art work, for the setting of doors I used my school and college building as the starting and ending point instead of fort. Since purpose of creating the ‘Hatches’ was to build an artwork that’s why I started it round my college.
Hatches art work is a combination of the gates of Sienna & Lahore, outer walls are inspirited by the walls of Sienna and the inner wall showing the walled city of Lahore. The surviving walls of each city are painted while the ruined gates have been left out, I’ve painted 6 vestigial gates on the inner circle walls and the 3 on the outer walls, as Lahore has 6 extant gates while Sienna has 3 operational gates. There is also prolonged pathway, which shows the augmentation of the roads of the city; walls which facing the road are stenciled to give a measureless feel of opening to a magical world. The idea of using the stencil was inspired by my prior assignment, in which I worked on fabled elements inspired by some Sienna’s stories. 
Purpose of playing with lights and shadows by distributing art work (Hatches) under natural light, where I discovered how the shadows created numerous doors through the broker cutouts of the gates. The illusion created by the light, formed a silhouette of an immense city.
The sole purpose of doors is not only security or sign of a pathway towards the new world. Half circle on the doors Indicates towards divinity. Outside walls are Sign of Spread which Herbs along with the city. Texture of outer walls is establishing that it can lead to limitless doors. This is a great example of galaxies cosmos and divinity. 
As an idea of the maze in art work (Hatches), I have used a spiral form to create the illusion which starts from the gates and ends in the compo or Public Square. The Purpose of my assignment was to combine both the designs of the walled city in Lahore and the walls of Sienna, to breaking new ground of architectural space; as both cities owned their unique architectural history and classical style. As I walked through the city I could connect and reimagine the buildings of Lahore by placing various elements on certain areas of the city, I carried out various experiments and managed to create entirely new form of architecture which is fascinating and mesmerizing which makes it unique.

Luoghi di Fuga booklet project: 

The name of the book is fantastical, its based on idea of continuity. When we walk through places within a city, we are often found to recall our passed experience and memories of the place. However we also try to imagine how the place may look like over the years passed, from its development and how the locals may have lived. As I recall my country I see Historical buildings during the Mughal Era and imagine how the life would be for both  the local community back than and how the Mughal’s  would have ruled above them.
 When you open the book, the first glimpse you catch is of an old street where the sky is blue.  The windows and doors appear blue rather than black, this creates an illusion of whether we are inside the space or outside. If we look at the door the blue colors gives an impression of an open space revealing the sky like an opening of courtyard.
 This is book shows my walking experience from my home to the compo,  where I explored and returned home.
I aimed to show our daily  activities where we walk, socialize, think and on our way back we tend to memorize and recall our activities. The bubbles which I have shown here represent this routine. In the front cover of the page, we see bubbles. The significance at first is confusing but the presence here show the continuity of the journey, which shows a vicious circle as this process is constant and universal.
 You may notice that I have made energy saving “bulbs” instead of bubbles floating throughout the city.
It emphasizes on the city of light, which is often how my city looks like.
I have mentioned the term “mindscape”,  next to it I drew myself blowing bubbles to show how I am escaping reality  to enjoy the beauty of the city.
My book Is interactive as it engages the reader, it is both fantasized and realistic as visuals have been stylized to create a world of fantasy.
 Since these are actual sites they have an orientalistic perspective which is what highlights the narrative making it memorizing and believable.
 The color pallet is inspired by the colors of  earth. The purpose of using these colors relates to our existence in this planet. No matter where we are, which continent or country we are in the earth is the same.

Reading response: Rebecca Solnit, Shape of a Walk: 

Artists, being the most sensitive people of the society, have the tendency to experience and then convert the simplest of daily life things to art. A daily life action of some people’s life, a liability for some and leisurely act for others; walking has been perceived differently by various artists. The reading categorically mentions how differently artists from different places, eras and contexts have expressed the walk in their artworks. Some took a literal approach, portraying it through footsteps or roads, others saw it as the interaction with people on the way.
I, as an artist, have my own way of seeing it. Walking for me although, has been more of an obligation than something artistic, as i had to walk miles to reach college from home and back. Still carrying the nature of an artist, I sensed things that probably others wouldn’t. passing through the narrow streets of the walled city I was reminded of the people that must have walked the same paths in a different century when this was the residence of the cities elite class. the road stays there, but people walking on it keep changing forever. i would think how many stories the road must have to tell, stories of people going towards their destinations, others going away from them, probably without even knowing. Walking for me, is the ultimate form of exposure; exposure to the context, to the environment, to nature, to people, to places, and exposure brings knowledge. You learn the most when you’re exposed and this makes walking an experience of learning.
If I were to express walking as art, I would probably express what I have learned. The things I experienced and what the road told me, what the trees said to me, what buildings talked about and what the birds were whispering as I passed by them.
Reading response: Rebecca Solnit, The Blue of Distance:
In this passage, the artist speaks about the color blue. Blue has various meanings in terms of emotions and  expressions, an artist uses color blue to create a sense of mood; which may can highlight the narrative as they wish to perceive  it. The usage and application of the colors help give meaning to an image or expression.
Impressionist artists such as Monet used the colors from nature and produced their art works. For Impressionists light plays an important role, as light is build up of 7 spectrums it is the color blue which is the most appealing and important one. Blue compliments everything, it brightens up the sky, beautifies the rivers, seas and ocean. It acts as a sense of hope, life and in some cases sadness .
In aesthetics and design, the color blue compliments all sorts of colors, balances the colors to create a sense of rhythm  and harmony. This is mainly as the color has elements of both light and dark colors, when you mix blue in warm colors it creates a complimentary match for the remaining colors, when applied with cool colors a large range of colors opens up. Black is found to dull the saturation or the hue of the color, while white lightens color till fades away. Blue is the balance in between, it expands to produce a wide range of colors while existing within the spectrum. Artists often use blue as it is naturally influenced color and plays an excellent role to create drama by capturing emotions both metaphorically and literally.
Van Gogh was found to use Blue as an important color in his pallet. In starry nights the blues created an aroma of the grandeur in the universe. The color complimented all his colors extremely well that it also captured the mind and emotions of the artist. A sense of empathy was dominate which was a key element in his paintings. While looking at this painting the viewers can feel the sadness  and comfort of Van Gogh by looking at the selective placement of the colors around the blues. Similarly in religious narratives, blue is used as symbol of sacredness. For instance paintings like in Leonardo da vinci Virgin of the Rocks. Mary is wearing a blue robe, to highlight her importance in status.
There is also an expression, which people say ” I am feeling blue” it is often used as a metaphor for sadness , depression and time period of stillness.  Picasso, like few artists entered a blue period in this time he was found painting in various shades of blue. Through the color, despite the composition and subject matter the color itself became a piece of art. With this can can conclude the power of expression of colors within it self and how unique and expressive colors can be in arts.

Intro Unit Project: Tempo Zulu

My project is based on water, nature and mythological stories related to the seaside of Siena, which is the heart of the city.
As Siena is built on hilly landscape, water has always been a prime concern and even today, the city continues to thrive without a natural water source (for example, rivers which are common in many cities). Because of the water shortage,  the people have to work hard to find ways to increase the water supplies of the city. Walking along the streets of this historical city and admiring its beautiful buildings, it is intriguing to think that underneath it all lies many kilometers of tunnels, called “bottini.”
It is the work of nature which creates life, water nurtures life and allows it to grow. The beauty of Sienna is that people  build various ways to bring water to stay alive..
I belong to the Province of Punjab,  which has 5 rivers, these rivers are our countries natural water sources which flows throughout the country. The river flows from the Himalayas in the north and down to the province of Sindh. The  five tributaries form a singular river, it joins the sea near the coast of Sindh where it merges with the sea.
For my project, I chose the famous Diana street. Underneath this street a river flows,  of hich the street got its name. The river circulates throughout the city, underground through its tunnels. There is mythological tale that a beautiful Mermaid named “Serena”, once lived in the river and agreed to provide a spring for the people. The story has been fabricated. But I was amazed by the idea of a Mermaids living underneath this glorious city.
The People of Siena have maintained and protected both the city life and the water of the underground river, in order to preserve both the water and the city.
In my art work, I have made the mermaid resting on the ground as she releases the 5 rivers from her fingers.
Serena has come out from “Diana River” to breathe the city and enjoy the sound of the city life..
Serena is trying to talk to the city and its people, she is explaining why she is important for the city and her gift should not go to waste. As long as her river continues to flow, the trees will give life..
This is the reason why I chose to make the mermaid because man and nature must be one in order to thriver harmoniously. The street has beautiful, clean and live fountains and are believed to be  a gift for the mermaid. However it is mainly a drinking fountain for the people.
The presence of the mermaid is absent.  However if it were present, it may further add the emphasis on balance between history and culture of the people and their devotion to nature. The presence of the mermaid can also act as a tourist attraction and a symbolism from the mythology. Hence in my sketch I have drawn her near facing the fountains, as it may further add as a wonderful attraction for the people and the place.
*The first art piece I took the inspiration from the missing line of the zebra crossing by the footpath on “Diana Road”. The purpose was to narate the mythology story of the Diana river which flows underneath the street. According to the Mythology, Serena the mermaid agreed to open a fountains for the people to use her clear waters. Although the story is not true, but it highlights the discovery of the underground river, which saved the city.
I placed sheet on the missing line to capture the texture of road. A car crossed over it, leaving a pattern of the tire. I used the patterns to make it appear like the scales of the mermaid. The scales like pattern I drew downwards to create a flow, similar to the flow of the water. As as a result the viewers can see the the mermaid is going downstream with the current of the river.
**In this second art piece, I have shown the mermaid’s hand. The fingers are wide open,  through which five streams of water are flowing out to become one, similar to the five tributaries of river Indus which meet near Sindh to become one river which meets the Arabian sea.
I have demonstrated the phenomena, through colors on the hand, the redish area represents drought and intense heat of the summer. The contact of water causes the land to revive making it fertile and alive. My purpose here was to show “rebirth of a land” once it gains its hydrated with water.
Water is the essential for every creature on earth, without it we can not survive. Because of global warming its becoming challenging every year, every contact of water is a blessing for the land and beings who need it.
***The third art piece is a sculpture form made of foil paper. The impression captured is of my own hand and from the tips I have shown the flow of water, flowing downstream to the fountains.
I am creating an illusion that the hand is appearing from underneath the ground, just like in the mythology. The purpose of using the foil paper is to create the textures of the scales of the mermaid and the delicate waves of the water.

Intro Unit: Walk of Destiny

As a student of Fine Arts, what influenced me the most are the Historical buildings and the sculptures. In Lahore a city in Pakistan, no such lavish street arts are found around the city.
 The contradas witnessed in Sienna,  itself narrates the historic background, lifestyle and culture of the people and the city. Every street is true as a poet’s imagination. The artist’s presences is strongly present along with the transformation in style as art evolved throughout the years. While comparing the statues, one can see the meaning and worth of each sculpture.
The most impressive sculpture is the she-wolf. The animals are shown kind and nurturing towards the children, whether  they are prey or predators. My favorite element was the sympathetic dragon, which I sketched –  towering the tall buildings and its window and doors. The windows create an impressive pattern which creates an aurora of the city.
The emphasis on the high contrast for the composition is essential,  as it highlights the theme which focuses on narrative. The composition appears light, it makes the relationship of each components in the drawing harmonious and soft. This gives an impact of a sacred heaven for both man, animal and the mythological creatures. The circular ring which is a cresent and an eclipsed sun gives an illusion of day and night which symbolizes time.
As the image appears to stretch out from the surface. It further enforces on the sacred relationship between man and nature which exists in the world. Thus you can see how the houses (man)  on the left have stretched outside the space, the moon (nature)  extending from the bottom.


mariamMariam Arshad, Pakistan
Bio statement:

I, Mariam Arshad, am an aspiring art student from the city of Lahore, Pakistan. Being the daughter of the world’s first ever microengraving artist, my entire childhood revolves around art and craft. I have grown up seeing my father create master pieces of art, and this has contributed a lot to what i am today. After getting a degree in fine arts from Naqsh School of Arts, I applied to and got admission in the National college of Arts, one of the most prestigious art institutes in our country. I am currently enrolled here in 3rd year of Department of Fine Arts, with Painting as a major. My portfolio is vast, both in terms of subject and medium, but it predominantly consists of oil paintings as this is the medium I enjoy the most. Boris Vallejo is one of the recent artists whose work inspires me the most. I seriously love the way he portrays the human anatomy, talking of which, Michelangelo’s study and the details of human body in his works are definitely worth a mention here.

As for my future aspirations, I intend to emerge as a responsible artist who fulfills the responsibility of portraying her culture and society in the right manner. I want to fortify my roots through knowledge, education and exposure. I believe that Sienna Art Institute can provide me with all these things, which is why i am very eager and excited to come and learn more about art and Italian culture.