Inspired by Tradition
These artists explore traditional and modern techniques to express their unique perspectives.
This painting is inspired by various elements of Javanese batik. I am an Indonesian immigrant who has been living in the U.S. for 30 years. As an artist, I like to take every opportunity available to showcase my Indonesian inspired painting on silk to introduce a glimpse of Indonesian culture to American audiences. There is quite a large group of Indonesian immigrants in the DMV area.
Nico Gozal’s cross-cultural art training includes the Budihardjo School of Fashion in Jakarta, Indonesia as well as the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Tampa, Florida. Gozal draws his inspiration from elements of Central Java and Balinese traditional art and culture, including Javanese Wayang/shadow puppets, Javanese Batik motifs, and Balinese wood carving design. He hopes to bring a modern twist to Javanese and Balinese culture and introduce them to the rest of the world.
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Bingjib Huang was born in Taiwan and came to the U.S. over 40 years ago. He earned an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Univ. of Maryland. Bing was interested in Chinese calligraphy from an early age. Traditionally, Chinese calligraphy is a piece of black and white artwork, creating a poem or story by Chinese brush with black ink on white rice paper. Years ago, Bing started to experiment with a new style for his calligraphy artwork. He paints Chinese calligraphy with symbols or colors in a way to make a unique artistic expression around the meaning of Chinese characters. He participated in International Artist Support Group (IASG) art shows in China, Egypt and was also invited to participate in the Florence Biennale (2007) and London Art Biennale (2013) where he also won an award.
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Manzar's "MAAGU" مگو (peaceful silence) multidisciplinary projects for peace and possibilities stemmed from a series of works titled “Conversation with Silence” and the illumination of self, the "i" which is the light of awareness within us. The creation of Maagu project started five years ago, inspired by Rumi poem #2219 in his Ghazal book of poetry. Maagu project is designed to connect communities through the arts, feminine culture and education. Manzar’s works result from the influence of both Eastern and Western cultures and the experiences of an Asian woman living in Maryland for the past 40 years.
Manzar was born in Tehran, Iran. She studied art and music. Her work has been exhibited throughout the country and around the world. Manzar served as chair of the Multicultural Outreach Program of the Maryland State Arts Council and was a consultant for the Baltimore mayor’s office of art and culture. She is the founder of IMA of America, an international multidisciplinary artist organization. Manzar’s permanent collection was exhibited at the Watermark Gallery in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for 22 years where she conducted workshops on art, creativity and wellness as well as hosting community events following the theme: “Embrace Diversity, Create Peace, Celebrating Life.”
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When I was working on this piece, I was very homesick, so I imagined home, and I painted it. I imagined that I was climbing the mountain, walking on the grass, playing with the leaves on the trees, and touching the water. That helped to calm me down.
Sughra Hussainy is trained in traditional Afghan and Islamic styles of art including miniature paintings, calligraphy and illumination. Through her art, Hussainy speaks and encourages viewers to break down the preconceived ideas that enforce the boundaries between people and keep others’ voices silent. Hussainy’s medium is one of silent but eloquent expression, with a call to action — to listen with our eyes — and a plea to discern and give voice and empowerment to those without. Hussainy’s life has held many challenges, but she has turned to art to guide her through each one. Art gives Hussainy a platform and a voice through which to speak. Through traditional techniques and style, Sughra Hussainy’s art speaks the language of social change, on behalf of women.
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Using the word “Jaan” in Farsi which means the essence of life and also can be used as “Dear” in daily conversation. The large, bold strokes in Shekasteh Nastaligh reads “life,” and the small, overlapping, abstract words in Nastaligh on top reads “Black Lives Matter.”
Nahid Tootoonchi is a graphic designer, artist and educator. She received her undergraduate degree in graphic design in England from Southampton College of Art and her MFA in Communication Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Tootoonchi’s artwork and research focus on Farsi calligraphy. She has been using letterform as a design element to create non-conformist composition. In her art work, Nahid uses calligraphy to create abstract images to invoke emotions. Somehow in its natural form and elementary quality, she finds an infinite wisdom gravitating toward a basic way of living. Calligraphy is as old as history but its use in contemporary art has a pronounced echo to the future. The letterform movement and playfulness offer inspiration and solution. Nahid’s recent work is about celebrating life in all aspects — our differences, our common interests, our struggle and our vulnerability which bring us unity and educate us about each other.
Between the horrors of COVID-19, the anger towards Asians and the violent demonstration towards the newly elected administration, I wanted to escape to a safe place. Nature is a place of retreat. Nature is the Dao, it is the way, it is the path to understanding and peace. By painting quiet mountains, I can retreat in my mind to find peace in this chaotic world.
As an Asian American born in this country it was important for me to learn more about my Chinese heritage. I have been delving deeply into the tradition of brush painting. I have studied with brush painting masters and have been painting for over 30 years. I am a docent at the National Museum of Asian Arts and I made it my specialty to give tours in Chinese paintings. Through exhibiting my works to the general public, teaching, giving painting demonstrations, and as a docent, I am sharing my heritage. My hope is the more Americans can learn of the Asian traditions and culture; the more we can build a mutual understanding and appreciation for each other.