Zainab Khuwaja might be young but the Houston-based artist has a clear vision for future—using her art to reflect her own identity as an American-Muslim. “Through my style and form of art I believe I have been able portray a greater appreciation of Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy from a historical as well as a modern aspect,” she explains.
In her work, Zainab takes inspiration from Arabic Calligraphy and Islamic art and architecture, such as the historical mosques of Turkey, Spain, and Cairo. She uses traditional elements in her work like ceramic tiles, mirror and glass––materials that were used in the architecture and décor in the Fatimid era as well as in the time periods of Mughal and Ottoman Dynasties. “Developing a unique pattern and style which is uncommon within the art world is a success in its own way,” notes the proud artist.
“I feel that by adapting and practicing my art I have not only been able to expand my skills as an artist but also been able to gain a better understanding of the concepts of my faith, societal beliefs, and extremism of politics in the world.”
Her style does manage to set her pieces apart. Take for instance her breathtaking olive Faiths Girdle piece on canvas that draws you in toward a single focal point with the word “Allah” in the center, encircled by colored mirror pieces or Luminous Glow which almost sails afloat the name of the Creator in a fiery orange. Dragon’s Eye is a slightly different but bolder piece that is done in a haunting palette—the bright reds and the eager greens combined with the subtle blues to soften the overall effect. The elements in that composition show a budding artist wanting to break forth and establish her mark on the art world.
Dragons Eye – Acrylic on Canvas
Faiths Girdle – Glass and Mirror work on Canvas
Luminous Glow – Acrylic on Canvas
Zainab’s creative journey began at the age of three, when she first started dabbling with watercolor and pottery. Over the years, that passion continued but she found herself also getting very interested in politics and law. Zainab, who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science and art from Houston Baptist University, is inspired by some of Houston’s most renowned artists such as Michael Collins and Virgil Grotfield. “At school, I am the only artist generating Middle Eastern concepts and designs of calligraphy in general within the art department,” says Zainab. “By viewing my work, some of my fellow student artists and professors have been able to develop a better understanding and appreciation for Muslim art and architecture in general.”
Zainab’s art has been acquired by many private collections. “I do hope in the near future to showcase my work on greater spectrum,” says the hopeful young artist and we wish her the very best in her journey.
Links to the artist
Contact link to purchase: Galerie.Khuwaja@gmail.com
“This book is a collection of essays and poems originally written for a zine called “Qiyamat: A newsletter for friends of the Imam.” They present a unique pro-ismaili look into the Shia Imami Ismaili Mulism faith, one not found in the usually historical books on the Ismaili’s. “