Painter Hamama Bushra has studied the arts in Pakistan and the United States. Influenced by both her graphic design background and her South Asian roots, Hamama paints colorful and multi patterned portraits of women displaying confidence and femininity. Hamama’s artwork will be on view at the Cedar Roe branch until August 21, 2023.
Introduce yourself and describe your work and medium you work in.
My name is Hamama Tul Bushra, I’m a Pakistani-American who has been living in Kansas for the last 20 years. I did my bachelors in graphic design from Pakistan. After moving to Kansas, I completed a master's degree in art history from UMKC in 2016. Initially I started painting portraits with watercolor on paper. I started painting full figure compositions during the COVID-19 pandemic, using acrylic as my medium, on canvas. My selection of colors is bright with flat application, and I cover the surface with local patterns, reflecting my South Asian cultural roots. My subject is Woman, which I pick from my surroundings. She is relaxed, confidant, not bothered by external pressures or expectations. The body language often symbolizes a challenge to societal rules by the way she sits or looks back at the viewer. She embraces her heritage by wearing traditional clothes reflecting her femininity and culture.
How has your background in graphic design influenced your current work?
Being a designer by training, I look at my artwork as conveying messages to my viewers in terms of form and subject. I try to bring attention to social issues that is impacting a person, in my case women. My distinctive style of painting is derived from my practice of making/painting posters and ads by hand in college, as computers were not freely available at that time.
What do you wish to convey when working on a portrait of someone?
I want the client to feel happy when they see their painting. Faces always fascinate me, I feel they tell a story so when I paint a portrait, I try to bring out the character of my subject as I look at it and understand it. I expect the viewer to get engaged with the face and come up with their own interpretation of the person. Be it a portrait or a full figure, I want the viewer to feel connected to what they see on the canvas.
What do you feel is your role as an artist?
As an artist, I have an advantage to voice my message visually. With that opportunity comes a sense of added responsibility to contribute to society by addressing its issues, raise questions and spread awareness where possible.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Of course, every available tool is important. Since colors play a vital role in my visuals, I think without the yellow color I would feel restricted and frustrated. Apart from tools, I think I cannot work without my cup of tea and music or radio in the background.
What books, movies and/or music have inspired you recently?
I’m not a big movie person but I love reading books and they are a constant source of inspiration for how I think about and look at life. Dostoyevsky is my all-time favorite, as I had learned a lot about the human condition and psyche from his books, which I try to express in my work. I enjoy and draw inspiration from Pakistani and Indian classical music, as they are a reminder of my roots and keep me grounded.