altM caught up with spectacular artist Sophia Khan to interview her on her artwork, her interests and her inspiration! We are delighted that she has chosen some of her artwork to be featured on our site.
Tell me a bit about yourself: Your background, your interests, your hobbies.
My formal education is in Architecture, which I practice in addition to pursuing Fine Art. I love traveling solo to foreign lands whose culture and architecture intrigue me and I’m an incurable Italophile. If my wanderlust is not being indulged by actual travel, I enjoy reading about places I would love to visit and memoirs written by other travelers.
Besides my interests in traveling and reading a variety of genres, I love running in par with a good audio book-usually something by Danielle LaPorte, indulging in my ever expanding collection of tea, writing, and exploring events, exhibitions, and used bookshops in NYC, often with a sketchbook in hand. I have also become somewhat of a ‘stop and smell the roses’ kind of person, as I find that the things that bring me immense pleasure in life are becoming more simpler over time.
How did you get interested in art?
I started painting watercolors as a celebration of my love for the beauty of Italy.
When I first traveled to Italy as an Architecture student, we were taught to put away our cameras and to instead sketch the ruins, monuments, churches, and piazzas that inspired us. This embedded in me a deep sense of connecting with my surroundings through drawing and art. I also painted with watercolors during my travels. Over time I grew more and more fascinated with working in this medium, which I find both meditative and exciting to work with, and decided I wanted to pursue it more regularly.
How has art influenced you as a person?
As an artist I think fine art, and perhaps any creative endeavor, gives one an incredible sense of freedom. You are given a blank canvas from which to show the world, the inner or the outer, through your unique eyes and experiences. Making that expression one of beauty and one that others can appreciate and relate to, is incredibly gratifying and humbling.
As someone who appreciates the artwork of others, I think works of art are a means of connecting with something larger than oneself. You connect not only with the emotion, idea, or story that is being conveyed by the artist, but sometimes you find in the brushstrokes of a painter, an expression of something within you that you previously felt isolated by.
What do you like to focus on in your art?
My painting subjects are mostly places I have visited during my travels to Italy, Spain, Morocco, and Iran, which I feel a deep connection or reverence for. I also paint ‘Travel Mementos’ for patrons who wish to celebrate their own travels by having their favorite travel photograph painted as a watercolor in the expressive, impressionistic style that I paint in.
Do you derive your inspiration from any one artist in particular?
Although there are many artists, past and present, whose work I find incredibly inspiring, many of whom paint subjects similar to mine, the one artist that comes to mind the most is the 17th Century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi. I remember seeing an exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, many years ago. I gasped at my first glimpse of her painting Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. I felt like the scene in the painting was real and happening before me. I was in complete awe and admiration of how skillfully and beautifully the sense of imminent danger, risk, and mystery in the scene was captured by the artist. As artists, one of the things we hope for most is to stir emotion in the viewer, and I can think of no other artist who so beautifully and dramatically accomplished that than Gentileschi.
All images copyright © Sophia Khan
altM is committed to supporting Muslimah entrepreneurs, in addition to curating Muslimah voices through our articles. By featuring Muslim women artists in our gallery, we hope to promote their artwork and showcase the many skills and talents of Muslim women around the globe.
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