Saadia Yasmin

In my ardent striving, I believes I have created a revolution that gives voice not only to the beloved Pushtuns of my  paintings, but to all those around the world without voices. Today I envisions myself rebelling through art for the rest of her life with a good cup of tea!

 

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Who are you?

I was born in Doha, Qatar.  My  arrival (as the youngest of 7 children) into a family headed by her diplomat father gave me an early opportunity to learn, grow, and receive rich creative nurturance from diverse cultures. Primarily raised in Greece, I remembers the splendor and fascination of ruins and ancient art that thrilled me as child.

While I enjoyed constant “dabbling” in art throughout her early life, many years would pass before I would understand how my  playful explorations sowed seeds that would later lead me to her true artistry.

In 1999, I traveled to the US with my family, making Washington, DC my newest home.   When the war in Afghanistan erupted into full force, I was bombarded with images of Pushtuns as victims of war, poverty, homelessness, and conflict in the place I once called home.  It was at this time that I decided to use my art to capture the sorrows of my people, and to give a human face to this agonizing conflict.

I  resided in the Washington D.C. area for 15 years before I move to Richmond, VA this year, involving myself in ventures that are rooted in the same passion that inspires me to paint. Through the venue of an international radio show, Global Rickshaw Radio (http://www.mixcloud.com/tag/global-rickshaw-radio/ ), I offer diversity to the nations capital with my own  voice enlightening listeners to the beauty of my native music and customs.  I  has exhibited my artwork with Muslim Women in the Arts,  Afghan Education for a Better Tomorrow and numerous galleries in the downtown area, such as Bloombars, Henry Street Gallery,  Art Soiree, Empowered Women International, Pave ( empowerment of victims of domestic violence), American University Women and Raw artist.

I attribute the popularity of my paintings to the unique and distinctive features of the Pashtun people.  In receiving so much positive feedback, my inspiration to tell the stories of the Pushtuns through art continues to grow and evolve.  In my ardent striving, I believes I have created a revolution that gives voice not only to the beloved Pushtuns of my  paintings, but to all those around the world without voices. Today I envisions myself rebelling through art for the rest of her life with a good cup of tea!

Give us your favorite quote and tell us why it means so much to you:

“If you wish to drive a Khattak crazy, tie him to a tree and play the drums.”
I am not sure if the quote goes exactly the way I quote it, however I love this quote because as a pashtun and Khattak it reinforces the fact that we are no different than everyone else on this globe, our nation is not the face or extremist but rather we are artist, we are writers, journalist and a lover of creativity. As an artist myself and a Khattak I know a stroke of a brush or a beat of a drum does infact send me into ecstasy.

Islamic Perspective:

I Identify myself as a humanist, to do good and struggle everyday to not unconsciously say or do harm to others.

What Ayah of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why?
In relation to different ethnic, cultural, and religious groups the Qur’an tells Muslims “for every one of you did We appoint a law and a way, and if Allah had pleased He would have made you (all) a single people, but that He might try you in what He gave you, therefore strive with one another to hasten to virtuous deeds”.[26] The Qur’an advocates equality between all and says that the only good deeds may raise the status of one human over another.

 

The “Ten”:

1. What is your favorite book?
ahhhh there are sooo many, but I would say The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli was always on the top of my list.

2. Who inspires/inspired you?
I take inspiration from so many people, people who are close to me and new people I meet everyday. They inspire a passion within me that need to be ignited everyday.

3. What is the best lesson your mother/mother figure taught you?
Both my mother and father were always very generous and giving people, they helped their relatives, friends and those they didn’t know in need, with as little or as much as they had. This instilled volunteerism in me and giving back to the community. I remember once for a fundraising drive I filled my mothers house with donations and she couldn’t even move around it but she never once objected to more boxes being dropped off.

4. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
With age comes experience, when you are 13 the world is unfair and your parents don’t know what is best for you, at least thats what I thought. I would tell myself, what i realized when i was in my early 20’s and saw my siblings raising kids. Life is funny and no matter where you are from we all have the same feeling and struggles through our teen years, thinking we know best. I would advise myself to have been patient with my parents and understand that maybe they did know better.

5. What are your hopes for your daughter and son?
Its a scary thought raising kids in this time and again, I once read somewhere kind parents raise kind kids. I hope that if my children can’t live in a hopefully and peacefully world that they at least in their way bring about kindness, a sense of community, and hope for their generations to come.

6. What is the biggest trial you went through in your life and how has that changed you?
There are have a series of trials, as a Pusthun, a woman, an artist, daughter and as a sister. However, they have all taught me that nothing is ever going to be handed to you, you must fight for what you believe in otherwise change will never come.

7. Any regrets? What’s something that you wish you’d thought about more before you did it?
Well at one point or another yes I did have regrets in life. But frankly when I reflect on them now, they were not regret but rather a process I had to go through to be where I am today. And I must add I love where life has brought me today and I am very content with choices I have made.

8. How do you stay grounded in your work and/or spiritually grounded?
My work itself is very spiritual to me, there is a sense of belonging to my roots. I paint and speak from the heart of issues that concern and effort women and Pustuns around the world. I put a face and voice to those that I believe are voiceless, telling their stories itself spiritually grounds and humbles me.

9. How do you bring about real change?
For me personally its through my art, wherever I exhibit I tell the stories of the Pusthun people, bringing awareness to the culture, customs and traditions. Through my radio show I bring awareness to issues that avail women and children in our region. I am soon starting a project to bring back life to the Folkloric stories from the Pusthun region which is a lost art now.

10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
My work with the Pushtun community, by raising awareness through art, creative storytelling and bringing alive our poetry and music.

Video Message from Saadia:

 

More about Saadia:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/GLobalRickshawR

Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/global-rickshaw-radio/id329024257

Mixcloud: http://www.mixcloud.com/GlobalRickshawRadio/