Art as a way to express and cope

On Feb. 2nd, Zahra Fariha had her first art exhibit in the CSU Gallery. The exhibit, called “Painting my Emotions,” includes over 15 original pieces, each with its own unique story to tell.

Zahra is a self-taught student artist at MSU. Getting the chance to exhibit was a surprise.

“I never really thought that I would actually have a showcase, but here we all are celebrating it,” she said.

“Art is basically a passion for me,” she said. “The intention I have while painting is to form a connection.”

While many of the works displayed are ones that didn’t have a specific plan behind them, each stroke Zahra makes in her works has meaning behind it. 

“Red for anger and frustration. Yellow is a sign of glory and calming down. Black is a color that surrounds darkness over other feelings and emotions,” she said.

Zahra uses colors to express herself but said she isn’t afraid to try other materials or techniques. She used brick and dirt in one painting to add texture to the work. In another, she used watercolors on paper as she did for “Do you still see me?”

“This was a quick watercolor I did when I was experiencing an incident,” she said. “I started drawing the face of a girl. Then I added red around her to signify anger. To finish, I added black lines to implicate imprisonment.”

Each painting depicts a time in Zahra’s life. In “Do you still see me?” we get the feeling of a darker time in a place that feels more like a cell than a room. On the flip side, we have “Mother’s Day,” a picture that Zahra gifted to her mother.

“Mother’s Day” is a charcoal picture of a street woman and her son. The picture captures a woman and her son on the streets, “struggling to live” but “still happily sitting there.”

“One of my favorites is Mother’s Day,” she said.. “I took the picture and started to think about how we take things for granted.” 

While Zahra acknowledges that some may find the picture “boring,” she said those stories are sometimes what we need to remember the world around us. 

Zahra’s paintings encapsulated many moments in her life, including during the pandemic.

“On my father’s birthday during the pandemic, I couldn’t get him anything. Because of the circumstances, I chose to draw him a picture.”

Zahra said she wanted to “draw something to tell him how I feel and what he means to me. I wanted to show him our emotional connection.”

Zahra’s works range from happy moments that celebrate life and family to dark, angry moments where nothing is going right. But she said, “we all have mental health issues, and we definitely need to find coping strategies as well. Art is my coping strategy. So, whenever I have time, I just go with my brushes and just work.”

Header Photo: A student looks at Zahra Fariha’s new art exhibit, “Painting My Emotions.” The exhibit’s reception took place on Feb. 2, and the exhibition runs until the 7th. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Kendall Larson kendall.larson@mnsu.edu

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