Like a plant growing out of a crack in the sidewalk, many have had to find a way to push forward through hardship, especially in the turmoil of the past year. In her acrylic painting “Still Blooming,” artist Nina Ashraf Asmi captures this strength that many people have found.
Working over weeks, adding multiple layers of paint to both reveal and hide elements of the blooms, she says the piece is about continuing on in the face of struggle.
“To me, art is healing — and meditation and hope,” says Ashraf, of Bloomfield Hills. “It’s something that breaks boundaries and brings people together.”
Ashraf Asmi learned about resilience when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Art has served as a “companion in healing” and “an immense source of strength and hope.”
She says that effect is important amid the pandemic.
“A lot of people have gone through hardships, have lost loved ones or have themselves been affected by COVID. However, nothing can subdue the spirit,” Ashraf Asmi says. “‘Still Blooming’ signifies resilience against all odds — no matter what the challenge.”
Art has been Ashraf Asmi’s passion since childhood, from the first time she appreciated the beauty of colors. She says she recalls roller skating down the hallways of her childhood home “with fistfuls of crayons” to draw rainbow lines on the walls.
“Luckily my parents were art lovers, so they didn’t mind my earliest attempts at murals any more than they did my later attempts. Now I have been exhibiting and showing my work for more than 20 years, but the spirit of it has stayed the same,” she says.
“Still Blooming” is one of 25 pieces being exhibited in Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center’s juried 2021 Current Student Works Exhibition. In addition to paintings in various media, the show also includes sculpture, jewelry and weaving.
“The Current Student Works exhibition is a wonderful annual celebration of our students and instructors, their talents and artistic achievements,” BBAC president and CEO Annie VanGelderen says in a press release. “We hope visitors will be moved by what they see, and possibly feel encouraged to start exploring their own artistic pursuits.”
Juror Claudia Shepherd said in a statement to the artists that the entries were “of great variety, meaning and beauty,” and that she chose pieces that display “inventiveness and craftsmanship.”
“With so many entries, I tried to be very thoughtful about criteria I use in looking at each of your works. IMPACT (presentation) — what draws me in to look more carefully at the formal elements that carry the intention or concept — that is whether acrylic, oil or mixed media —realistic or abstract; composition, balance, range of value relationships as well as spatial relationships and, of course, craftsmanship, in the expressive processes are all part of my considerations when looking at each work,” Shepherd says.
When working on her paintings, Ashraf Asmi she aims to capture “the essence of the subject,” a more abstract than realist approach she takes in translating the theme of “rebirth.”
She says the BBAC has given her a chance to connect with artists and work with instructors, including life drawing and portrait painting classes, like her current course “personal visions” with teacher Meighen Jackson.
“It is not only a beautiful facility but also a space where being together with other artists is inspiring,” Ashraf Asmi says.
See more of Ashraf Asmi’s art at ninacreativearts.com or at her Instagram @ninacreativearts.
If You Go
• BBAC 2021 Current Student Works Exhibition
• Through March 4
• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fri. (masks required for visit)
• 1516 S. Cranbrook Drive, Birmingham