Salma Arastu
Salma ArastuSalma ArastuSalma Arastu

Salma Arastu


My works are lyrical, spiritual, figurative, and calligraphic. My paintings reveal stories of unity in diversity, hope and connection, celebration of earth, and women. Whether in paintings or sculptures, the faceless figures represent the universal oneness of all humanity. My journey in art begins with a line and that lyrical line takes me to unknown fields and on a mysterious path and reveals new vistas to me. Work keeps flowing out and for me it is like a Sufi trance when a whirling dervish dancing to the rhythm of soul’s music forgets himself and finds oneness with his God. In that sense I can define myself as modern dervish. To achieve ecstasy through the act of painting and then helping people to achieve that level is my sole aim. The lines I create represent the spiritual energy that emanates from a soul. Since my exposure to Arabic calligraphy during my stay in the Middle East, my line has become more lyrical, melodious, and powerful. My method is a physical and meditative process that fills each canvas with moving lines and multi-layered textures. For me creating art means getting physically involved with the piece: scratching, sanding, layering materials like paper, rope, modeling paste, paper-mache or copper plate, and embroidering with pen and ink. I apply thin layers of acrylic color and the different layers bring out subliminal images. Arabic Calligraphy, miniatures, and the folk art continue to influence my work today. I have tried to bring together Eastern spirituality and Western techniques of painting learned over the years. Through the contrasting elements in my work, I yearn and search for unity, and when that unity or balance is achieved, it brings about a tranquility and joy. I feel blessed because I was born with the urge to create and a love for God. These two gifts have been sources of eternal joy and a constant flow of positive inspiration in my life. I work every day and start with a prayer that May I become a tool for the Universe to spread the joy and blessings that I have received through my work. Salma Arastu

As a woman, artist, and mother, I work to create harmony by expressing the universality of humanity through paintings, sculpture, and calligraphy. Inspired by the imagery, sculpture, and writings of my Indian heritage and Islamic spirituality, I use my artistic voice to break down the barriers that divide to foster peace and understanding. My personal triumphs have been defined and shaped by the simple principle of faith in The Divine, as the compelling force which has guided my life and work. My works are greatly influenced by my studies and experiences in different cultures around the world. After graduating in Fine Arts from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, India, I lived and worked in Iran and Kuwait, where I was exposed to a wealth of Islamic arts and Arabic calligraphy. Calligraphy, miniatures, and the folk art of Islam and the Hindu tradition continue to influence my work today. I was invited to Germany twice, first as a Resident Artist in 2000 at Schwabisch Gmund and again in the Spring of 2011, by the Westphalia Wilhelm University in Münster, Germany invited to publish my paper “Art Informed by Spirituality” in the publication on the International Symposium: ‘God Loves Beauty: Post Modern Views on Religion and Art. I have presented my work and given talks at Stanford University, Commonwealth of San Francisco, Seattle University, Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, and Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, St. Louis Missouri. I was invited to Morocco for a one-month Artist Residency Program in March of 2018 through Green Olives art Gallery. As a visual artist I have had 45 solo shows nationally and internationally and have won several prestigious awards including the East Bay Community’s Fund for Artists in 2012 and 2014 and 2020. The City of Berkeley’s Individual Artist Grant Award in 2014, 2015, and 2016. I have public art pieces on display in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and San Diego, California and I have also written and published five books on my art and poetry including my recent with ecological consciousness from Quranic verses “Our Earth: Embracing All Communities.”
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