11th Dec, 2012
Alhamra Art Gallery
At my solo show “sPIRITUAL eLEVATION” I did an extempore talk about my work and perspective as an artist. I've transcribed it to keep as record & reference for my future work. I'm sharing it so that those of you who were not there can get an essence of what I talked about!
Where is my dad? The most important person!
Ok, now that he is here… can I have your attention please.
First of all I would like to thank all of you for being here today. It’s a very significant part of my not only professional but also personal endeavor to do something that is not only symbolic for me, but what I’m trying to do is to contribute something to make other people also think on the line that how to detach ourselves from the small circle we have created for ourselves in the world that we live in…. and try to look beyond the boundaries of that circle and see the world from a different perspective.
Let me give a brief introduction about myself… since I’m sure they’re a few people here who don’t know anything about me. My name is Maryam Arif, and by profession I’m a doctor. I was fully involved in building my career as a doctor and during that time I picked up a camera like most people do… and started doing photography. But when I analyzed my work, I really saw my work a lot; I realized that it was something that I had been subconsciously doing all my life. When I was very young I remember I used to buy black and white film, I loved taking photographs especially architecture really caught my eye, I loved to see and appreciate what I saw around me.
Slowly and gradually I started sharing and showing my work, which was not easy for me initially; in fact it was rather challenging for me to show my work to people. It was a process I went through… but sharing was the best part for me; sharing my work meant so much for me because the momentum or energy in anything you do only comes when people get involved.
In my work you wont see people but my work is about human beings. In every image the dimension created can be related to the human brain. Coming from a medical background, you will know that every human being that Allah has created is a miracle in itself. In this room there are so many people, we are all individuals, same organs; brain, heart everything but we all have a different thought process, a different perspective on how we see and observe the environment around us, so that in itself is a miracle. So during the years I was practicing medicine this is what inspired me, that Allah has created such a strange machine. Human beings have themselves engineered so many machines, but all of them are nothing in comparison to what Allah has made in us. The exploration of the mind has always been the focus of my work.
While I was in the process of sharing my work I met so many people who gave me direction and understood the work I was doing, which was incredible since I did not have any art background. They gave me so much encouragement. I think an individual is nothing unless there is a team behind (around) them that pushes them and propels them forward.
It’s a journey and the people you meet along the way are the real asset that helps you achieve your goals!
If I stand here and say that ‘this is my achievement’, then that’s a very petty way, I think of looking at things. There are so many people who came together and because of whom I’m standing here today.
Through this exhibition “spiritual elevation” I’m trying to visually depict what I feel about society in general. I feel that our individualistic desires sometimes make us neglect our spiritual development. We think that if we get material things that we will become good people but the truth is until we work towards becoming good people at a spiritual level, then just materialistic possessions can’t make us good human beings. Self awareness, self criticism, self improvement and raising ourselves above the level of an individual and thinking of others before thinking of oneself… this leads to actual spiritual growth and spiritual elevation.
The deterioration we see in society today in the shape of corruption, theft, murder… is in a way a reflection of selfishness. We see people chasing their own desires, that I should be first, ahead of everyone else at the front of the line. In this desire they try to push everyone else at the back of the line. I feel that if people change this approach and work towards collective progress in which everyone around them move forward ahead in the line then that is true progress. This is the mindset I’m trying to put forward.
The mind is the most powerful tool we have… we have to look outside the small plastic world we have created for ourselves and look at the world with a different point of view. Money and things will come… but unless you spend time with yourself; get to know yourself; develop your own sense of perspective; invest in your relationships: protect and respect your environment, if there is a tree outside your house, Allah has created it, try to respect its existence… like my mother doesn’t even let anyone cut a single branch off of any tree in our house, because that is its natural growth. We have to start respecting nature, our environment and who we are as people… this is how our society will grow.
It’s important for me that the work I’m putting forward should carry my perspective not only as an artist but also as a human being, rather than just beautiful images. Beautiful images are important, one can come and see and admire them… but unless you put an element of your soul in your work it can never move you. That emotional movement can only come when the person who is bringing their perspective in front of you, brings it in a form that makes people connect with it.
This is what I wanted to say…”
5th Feb, 2012
It is crucial to understand that when we die, it is only the death of the human body; the spirit (our soul) lives on. When we die our soul loses its physical connection with the world which we know when we are alive.
Everything we do in this life, we should do with the conscious awareness that the consequences of every action will carry on after we leave this world; that our soul will bear the burden of it.
With this thought should come a realization; what is the purpose for us to be in this world!
Inner peace and happiness actually comes from a clear conscience which keeps our soul at peace!
Let me elaborate this point with an example – If we help someone in times of need, or give food to the poor, these actions will not result in any monetary gain, but these actions will fulfill us at a spiritual level because our soul will reap the rewards of these actions, even after our exit from this life. On the other hand if we cheat or steal money from someone, this action might result in a temporary gain of a monetary benefit, but will lead to a guilty conscience - which is the unrest of our soul. It is our soul which will have to face the consequences of these deeds.
So whatever we do in life, please do keep in mind that every action will result in a positive or negative reaction from our soul. So if you truly want to create a life full of inner peace and happiness, be fair with others, keep your word, and be kind and generous. This approach to life will rid us of corruption and dishonesty & will steer our lives in the direction of success and prosperity.