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Introduction

My name is Mariam Suleman, born June 29, 1996. I am a self-taught visual artist born and bred in Mombasa, Kenya. I have been fascinated by art throughout my life but, my travel to China cultivated an interest in mandalas. Which I further developed upon my return with a twist of Islamic geometric art. Most people that come across my Mandalas have compared them to the Persian intricate artworks.

How long have you been making art ?

Since I was a kid, I always looked for an opportunity to translate what I experience into art, and since 2015 I have led a life fully devoted to art.

What does your work aim to say ?

Mandala artist Mariam Suleman

Before I get to the message behind my work, I’d like to highlight the definition of a mandala. Mandala means a ‘circle’ in Sanskrit. It’s famously known as a spiritual and ritual symbol in many Asian cultures. Inspected closely, there are many hidden symbols in the artistic details. When I chose this path, I decided not to dwell much on the symbols to relay a message but to explore my endless imagination and see where creativity would take me. I always pour my heart and mind into each piece and let the audience speak for themselves.

Who are your biggest influences ?

My biggest influences are a French-Tunisian artist called El Seed and a Pakistani artist called Bin Qulander. I know their works don’t resonate with my work but, I adore their masterpieces, lifestyle, discipline, and mostly their journey in the art field. I guess I am a mandala artist with a strong bond to calligraphy.

When is your favourite time of day to create ?

My favourite time of the day to create is most definitely at night. I won’t even think twice about this haha! It’s at this time when I get some ‘me’ time. No responsibilities to attend to, just me and the world at peace.

Describe how we can encourage your career growth.

I wish the answer to this question gets the loudest attention. I wish we had art residences where we could appreciate artists of all genres.
For instance, most galleries in Kenya prefer a specific genre of art: ‘African art’ Leaving artists like me feeling left out.
I’d encourage people to appreciate other forms of art, offer support both financially & mentally, lastly, we need more quality supplies at a reasonable price.

Describe the best piece of art you have created so far ?

A Persian carpet painting that I worked on for almost a month or two I think. It was the biggest piece I had created at the time. When I look at it, I feel proud and satisfied, but of course, it doesn’t end there. There’s still a fire in me to create better ones. Whenever I look at it, I see change, just like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. It was with this piece that I started working on something else apart from mandalas. It was my transitioning point.

What is the best piece of advice you have received ? What advice do you have for others starting out ?

I can not pinpoint which one is the best because all just marry each other, but here are some of my favourites

  • Remember, you have to make mistakes because each mistake will help you develop a new technique. 
  • Challenge yourself because the more you stay in your comfort zone, the harder it is to get out. 
  • You have to work with your heart and brain and keep improving yourself.

Advice for those starting out

  • Being an artist takes a lot of discipline and hard work. 
  • Know your identity and your roots these two will make you remember who you are every time you work on a masterpiece.
  • Lastly, keep feeding your brain to stimulate it.

When do you know that you have finished your work ?

This has always been a constant battle, every time I think I’m done, I see something else I could add or remove, but then I remember Leonard da Vinci said that “Art is never finished only abandoned”. So, I only stop when it feels right.

How do you balance your time in the studio with other commitments such as family ?

It’s all about setting priorities right. As a wife and a mother, I first make sure I’m done with my daily responsibilities during the day. This gives me ‘me’ time at night.

What is your working procedure ?

Sketching, drawing, painting, outlining, cleaning, and lastly, embellishment.

Where can I get prints of your paintings or find you ?

You can find me on my social media platforms, both Instagram and Facebook @marman399. Find out more about Mariam on her website

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