Flite Artist Profile
by Ken Kemp
When Shayema ventured away from her home in Bangladesh to study in the United States of America, she left behind a secure, loving home.
Her father, an accomplished attorney, trained in the United Kingdom and then became a President of the prestigious Barrister’s Association of Bangladesh. Having passed the Bar of England and Wales, he wielded considerable power and influence in her home country; but he discouraged his daughter from pursuing a similar career.
Shayema’s mother, a caring artist, gave her and her brother a strong foundation for a successful life. Young Shayema watched her mother pursue her passion: Batik Art. Batik originated in Indonesia, a technique that employs wax resistant dye applied to whole cloth in beautiful patterns and designs, combing rich colors in dots and lines using a special tool called canting. Shayema came to love the creative hours she spent in the studio, and the lively art that emerged and won the acclaim of the entire community.
Her journey took her to Zia’s Art Institute in Dhaka, where she was exposed to the rich heritage of art in her home country.
Her family did not approve of her desire to leave her home and study in the United States. They would say, “your upbringing is very different.” But at the time, at the age of eighteen, she didn’t understand.
Her first year in Texas, far away from family and all she knew, loneliness consumed her.
By the end of her freshman year, she was engaged to be married. She believed that marriage would solve all of her problems, and that she would finish her education as a married woman. But soon after, she dropped out of school and went to work full time. The distance from her family, the demands of her young marriage, the end of her educational dreams and the absence of art all created enormous mental and spiritual anguish for the young woman.
In the darkness of a despair that nearly consumed her, Shayema had given up both school and art. She did her best to conform to the suffocating expectations others had of her. Adding to the heartache, her beloved father passed away in 2009. His passing left the family in grief. In 2010, Shayema mustered the courage to end her marriage. But by then, she had the unexpected gift of a beautiful baby boy.
Grateful for the lively little son she now raised, free from debilitating stresses of the past, Shayema returned to the studio, and to the classroom. She found great joy and freedom, empowered to express her love and wonder on canvas and cloth. In her biography, she says it this way:
My art became a form of therapy. I used my paint brush to release all of my pent-up emotions. I found myself choosing colors, textures and movement as a dialogue between clarity and confusion.
She completed her undergraduate work at the University of North Texas and then a graduate degree at Cornell in human resources. She works in the field as a Talent Acquisition consultant, providing for herself and her young son; but her passion is the studio.
When she found the Encaustic Center in Richardson, Texas, it was a perfect fit. They teach the Encaustic process - ancient art of painting with wax in a very similar technique she learned from her mother back in Bangladesh. Her teachers and mentors at the center were amazed at how quickly she took to the process, creating stunning images, exploding with color and emotion. Some have called her work a symphony of sound put to canvas.
It is no accident that Shayema plays classical music in the background, both Western and Eastern, as she works. She has formally studied music and voice in the classroom. In her studio, the movement, harmony and emotion become inspiration for her dazzling, energizing creations.
When Shayema met Angela and heard about Flite’s vision and purpose, she felt as though she had found a long-lost friend. As they shared their life experience and the beauty and wonder of the creative process, she readily agreed to become a member of the Flite family of Artists.
Her work was received enthusiastically at the Art of Freedom gathering last September in Dallas. She puts it this way:
I want my art to inspire, evoke emotion, and open doors to new ideas. I constantly explore the countless colors found in nature and create my own patterns and rhythms that serve as a catalyst of feeling.
I am Shayema.
Purchase her work at the FLITE STORE