In conversation with Fatema Ben. H. J.
Fatema Josh is an accomplished Artist, a Montessori Directress, a qualified Graphic Designer and a dedicated homemaker, whose life revolves around her family and her dreams. As you walk into her space, you are greeted with a warm smile, the aroma of her delicious cooking and a visual treat of her artwork. Her work is cherished and collected amongst a wide variety of patrons and art enthusiasts, who find her style liberating and blissful. She has exhibited her collections in Houston, Galveston Tx and online galleries, been invited to showcase at international venues, to showing her works on the Fatimid Heritage with the Islamic Arts Society of Houston. Her style is unique, she connects with her followers and relentlessly seeks outlets to master her craft and spread the beauty of colors. Although her kids and family have always been her priority, she is committed to her dreams and passionate about art. I have had the pleasure of knowing her for more than three decades. Her journey is an inspiration to countless stay-at-home moms.
You studied graphic design- when and why did you make the transition?
I remember the first thing I studied in college was Computer Programming! After a year of obtaining my diploma, I decided it was not the thing for me as I needed to do something with a unique and creative outlet.
As a child, drawing and coloring was my favorite hobby. I enjoyed the admiration for my artistic skills from others. Quite frankly, I feel fortunate to have inherited a creative gene from my Mom’s side of the family. I was always attracted towards fields that would encourage innovations and be out of the norm- uncommon. So I decided to pursue graphic design. Twenty years ago, it was something unheard of in Malaysia. However I decided to try it and I had such a hard time explaining to people what I did in college! I wanted to empower myself with skills where I could implement what I learned, outside work boundaries, in my daily life and cherish it forever. So graphic design taught me all the creative concepts of illustrations, photography, business, design and computer graphics. It gave me the foundation to create. As time passed, I was eventually married and moved to the United States. I became involved in taking care of my home and raising children, thus my creative splurges surfaced again and I started painting to envision my own space. I started reconnecting with myself after a decade of separation from the arts. It gave me emotional freedom and a sense of personal achievement. Continuous encouragement and appreciation of my paintings led me to start showing my work in public galleries. I have been truly grateful for the support I’ve received through the years now from family, friends and patrons.
Painting makes me relive my moments again
What is so different about art as an outlet for your emotions as opposed to exercising, or even meditation?
Visual art allows me to quantify my emotions as opposed to exercise or meditation. When we exercise, we release our bodies of stress and keep the recovery of emotions within us. When it comes to art, we share these emotions with others and encourage a stir of variable experiences and perceptions on the reception of these visual retreats. Painting makes me relive my moments again and share my inspiration with others who may not be able to express it the way I do but understand it in their own way.
My approach has always been on emphasizing the individuality of each child and giving them their deserving space to prosper and learn accordingly.
It is interesting what you say on your website about art education. Our education system is so heavily focused on the sciences (business, medicine, law etc). Why do you think it is important to instill a drive for the arts from such a young age when most parents want their children to focus on the sciences?
I think creative education or the Arts should be the foundation of many educational systems. Creative liberation is fundamental from a young age, so children have an outlet to express their emotions and ideas visually. Business, medicine and other studies usually focus on exact sciences. Arts, on the other hand, allow innovative mediums and lays a strong foundation towards academic achievement in other fields such as the above. Being a Montessori educator, my approach has always been on emphasizing the individuality of each child and giving them their deserving space to prosper and learn accordingly. I strongly believe in art therapy and its positive effects on our mental and emotional experiences.
I will cherish that moment forever when Aali Qadr Maula TUS accepted it and asked me if I had painted the piece and just admired my work for almost a precious minute with his meethi nazar.
Your most beloved and cherished creation- tell us about it.
Honestly, I cherish all my creations and pieces and believe they are individually unique in their own way. However, most of my paintings are inspired by acquired moments and spontaneous inspirations or simply memories that I wish to capture in a certain style. My pointillism collection for instance really makes me happy. I love the association to colors. Often times, the canvas is my space for regression and therapy. It’s difficult to isolate them as they’re all part of me. Nevertheless my painting of Jame’ Al Anwar has spiritually connected me to the Fatimid Heritage and curved a path towards my learning of the core marvels of the Fatemiyeen. It was a milestone I achieved at a critical point of my life when I needed it most in my creative field. That follows, being able to paint Al Anwar and gift it to Aqa Maula TUS was a dream come true. I will cherish that moment forever when Aali Qadr Maula TUS accepted it and asked me if I had painted the piece and just admired my work for almost a precious minute with his meethi nazar. It is this milestone that fulfilled me as a painter, where I felt I succeeded in integrating my faith to my visual arts. Also, Aqa Maula TUS’s topic for Ashara Mubaraka 1438 was such a validation!
The most unique (or the one you remember clearly) response to your artwork- be it positive or negative.
One of the most gratifying response to my artwork has been when I was told…”mostly I feel that it comes from your soul and I love that!” I am so humbled by these words. It’s amazing knowing that there are so many people out there that feel and love what I do.
Any Parting thoughts?
Art has always been part of my life since I ever knew it! Succeeding as an artist and creating an awareness for the appreciation of art is difficult yet implicit. I enjoy being myself and portraying a world of colorful and positive spaces through my work. I want people to perceive my art as a visual retreat and find their happy place through my creations.
You can find more of Fatema Ben’s work on:
Website : www.fatemajosh.com
Instagram : @fatemajosh