An interview with Oakland artist Aishah Bashir

[Editor’s note: The following interview is reprinted from the latest edition of Virtue Today magazine, Fall 2006)

Virtue Today magazine (VT): When did you first begin painting and why?


Aishah Bashir (AB): I began painting after a college schoolmate saw one of my doodles and commented on how beautiful it was. Before this point, I really just did my designs for myself. I’ve always been creative though, dabbling in ceramics, color therapy, sewing and collage.

VT: Who helped motivate and cultivate your talents?

AB: I can honestly say that I am self-taught, because my art began (and continues to be) a form of personal therapy. Until now, I have not really studied other artists, styles, etc. However, I can say that my children, my family and friends all motivate me whenever they see a piece and comment on its beauty.

VT: Why do you think it is important for women to share their talents? What do you think holds us back?

AB: One of my teachers once said that depression–the opposite of expression–is creativity turned inward. When we, as human beings, cease to express our gifts, whatever they may be, that unexpressed energy–which is always a gift from Allah–turns inward and results in depression, as well as other things such as addiction, etc. I think fear, low self-esteem, pressures from everyday living and a lack of support are some of the factors that hold us back.

VT: What do you do to take care of your health, physically and mentally? You look great!

AB: Honestly, I can do a better job of caring for myself. However, prayer (salat) and crying are good healing tools for me. Physically, like many Black women, I can definitely improve, but in the past I really enjoyed African dance, capoeira and yoga. I love the sauna and getting massages. I definitely recommend this!

VT: What is your vision for the future?

AB: Being able to live joyfully and peacefully, fulfilling my divine purpose in every moment, helping my children do the same, and sharing information with others so they can do the same.

VT: Thank you.

(Aishah Bashir is the lead coordinator for the Black Women’s Health and Healing Conference. For more information on Virtue Today magazine, visit www.virtuemag.com.)