I found out about Azzah Sultan when I was searching for ‘Inspiring Malaysian Women’ in time for the International Women’s Day.
While it’s good to know that there are many inspiring women out there, the lists tend to be the same and repetitive. Year in and year out, almost the same wonderful women are being highlighted.
I’m pretty sure there are many more women out there who deserve to be recognised. So I tried searching harder and discovered Azzah Sultan.
Azzah Sultan is not known in Malaysia. She’s originally from Penang but currently based in New York. Prior to moving there, she resided in Finland, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Azzah studied Fine Arts at the Parsons School of Design located at the 5th Avenue in New York City.
What makes Azzah a unique artist is that she tries to use the idea of culture and ethnic background and how that correlates with being Muslim within her art. In other words, she highlights aspects of Islam creatively through her artwork.
One of the main reasons she went to New York because she believes it’s the place to make it big in the artistic world.
She does find it challenging to be far away from her family and cope up with the fast-paced New York but she believes she’s getting stronger by constantly practicing her faith and developing her creativity.
Azzah has been into art since she was a kid. She’s been experimenting all sorts of ways to express herself through arts by using different materials.
In June last year, her ‘Home Sweet Home’ artwork below was exhibited at The Bushwick Collective Art Exhibition in New York.
This American flag was hand stitched by using Hijabs donated by Muslim women across the United States.
On her website, Azzah wrote:
As a kid my Muslim identity was an aspect of my life that defined me but never labeled me as being different.
When I was the age of ten and someone asked me “You’re not like one of those crazy terrorist Muslims, like Osama Bin Laden, right?” my innocence was shattered as I learned the harsh reality of how a Muslim is seen thought the lens of the media, society and politics.
It’s because of the frustrations towards the society she’s living in that she uses her art to express her feelings.
In these series of paintings above called ‘we are not the same‘ depicts the image of a muslim woman wearing a hijab and paint it in the style of famous 60s modern artists.
Azzah said that she used their styles and techniques and appropriate it in order to paint a figure of a muslim woman. It plays of the idea that now this muslim woman is painted in the style of modern art is she now considered modern?
So far she has exhibited her work at 4 different locations – three in New York and another one at the Parsons Paris gallery in France.
I’m not really an artistic person but I find her thoughts and work are very inspiring and exceptional.
If it inspires me, I will definitely highlight the person’s work. That means I am nominating her into my list of Malaysian Heroes for 2017, a similar list which I created for 2016.
Does this inspire you? Please do me a favour by sharing this on your Facebook.
[Adapted from here]