a passion for art

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Posted by: Cathy

I recently came across this article on passion by Lane Wallace on The Atlantic‘s website, and it got me thinking about how Surayia’s passion for art led her to create so much beauty despite having to overcome significant obstacles.

“Passion” can be an over-used word these days, so I apply it to Surayia and her art with caution.  But it’s hard for me to think of a better word to describe what Surayia felt from an early age when she first became aware of art.  She describes the Bismillah ceremony where, at age four years four months and four days she sat on her father’s lap as he guided her hand to make the letters of the alphabet.  The “intoxication” she felt when smelling paper and ink.  “I was crazy in painting,” she says of her early years.

"Homeless Mother," painting by Surayia Rahman. Photo courtesy of the owner.

That passion for art and for creating both drove and sustained Surayia through a life that included its share of challenges and constraints.  She returned to art despite economic hardship, and it proved a way for her and her family to survive difficult times.  Her passion for creativity led her to move from painting to embroidery based on the traditional kantha of Bengal; she envisioned the traditional quilts being made in a way that would let them stand proudly beside the most famous tapestries in the world.  She was able to take in stride the change from being an artist, creator and teacher in a development project to the founder of her own organization and a pioneering social entrepreneur.

Through her husband’s illness, the death of her eldest daughter, and the challenges of raising a family and educating her children, Surayia kept her mind focused on her passion: art.

As Wallace notes in her article:  “Passion, despite how often we use the term to tout company commitment or extol romantic excitement, is often misunderstood or confused with other motivations.  … passion is one of the most important elements in any effort to improve a community, build something of value in the world, and even survive tough times or a daunting economy.”

What’s your passion?