The Art of Life by Maznayim

The Art of Life by Maznayim

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Something Old, Yet Not Really

Something old...I was the first Visual Artist interviewed by the website. I believe this was around 2000..... How apropo that I should find this article as I have recently returned t my "artistic roots", however, I must say that I never fully left those roots...just got sidelined over the years.

The only thing that is out of date is the website and the email address! gosh I wish I could get them to change it....I've emailed them but to no avail. Anyway... Enjoy.

The original article and attached artworks can be found HERE:

GenJ: On your website you say that your favorite subjects are flowers, women, and Jewish themes. What about these subjects make them your favorite? How do they inspire you artistically?

Tamar (Tamu Ngina): A great deal of my art is on Judaic or Hebrew themes. I get much inspiration from the siddur (prayerbook). While reciting tefillot (prayers) on each Shabbat, at home or especially during the High Holidays, I begin to see the words or rather the alef-bet (Hebrew alphabet) in artistic form. Certain phrases from tehillim (psalms) are very inspiring, sound beautiful, and just beg to be painted. I once took a mystical alef-bet course and I believe this is what really sparked my interest. This was about three years ago. Ever since then I have enjoyed incorporating Hebrew lettering into my art. My Jewish heritage is extremely important to me. It is what I breathe and dream, so naturally it will play a part in my creative release as well.

When I attempt to incorporate the female form in art it is usually expressed as some version of the primordial Mother, or Chava (Eve), in all of us. Although I am very much a believer in traditional Judaism I find that for the most part the feminine aspect of G-d is generally neglected. Perhaps not so much neglected in Kabbalistic or Chassidic circles. But I very much am interested in meditating on the Shechinah, the indwelling presence of G-d, often understood as a female manifestation of the Divine. "Shechinah" is a feminine word, thus also in my mind representing the female aspect. All embryos start off in a female state and then eventually, after a certain amount of gestation time has past, either remain female or become male. Life is born through the female. I enjoy celebrating and reminding us of this fact; hence, why women, or the female form, is one of my favorite subjects.

And now we are down to flowers. Most certainly I should have said orchids and lotus are my favorite. Orchids are beautiful, mysterious, and sometimes downright grotesque yet very lovely and sensual. They are a challenge to the eye as well as a challenge for me to paint. Never a dull moment with them. I also enjoy lotus blossoms. In many cultures lotus represent creation or spiritual attainment.

GenJ: Also on your website, in the testimonial section, "Serenity" comments that she has one of your paintings hanging in her meditation room. Is this the sort of destination you envision for your art while creating it?

TN: Exactly. When I paint, it comes straight from my heart. When people look at one of my paintings, whether it's a verse from Torah or tehillim or an orchid, I want the words and imagery or the colour to embrace them. To give them a momentary break from the mundane.

GenJ: Please tell us about the painting "Chava: Eternal Mother in Us All."

TN: The spiral represents the spiral of life.... Blue Lotus in some cultures represent creation.... thus a blossom is her womb area....The rainbow represents the many people that have come from her.Her ten locks of hair represent the Ten Commandments, Torah, or the foundation of the Universal Law.She is faceless so she is all of us.And her stomach, slightly round, represents the unborn, yet-to-be-conceived generations.

GenJ: What do you like most about working with acrylics & watercolour?

TN: I do not have formal training in visual art. I've come to realize that perhaps I am slightly A.D.D., as I dropped drawing class twice in college. It was so boring. But seriously, all of my experience with media has been trial and error. I enjoy the feel of acrylics and their versatility. I've recently discovered the joy of watercolour. The translucent quality of it helps lend an ethereal or airy quality to a creation. You can add as much colour as you like or take it away if you change your mind. With watercolours you are able to create many different types of effects. Watercolour paints feel very warm and soft to me and I enjoy creating with them.

GenJ: How do you choose which colors to work with?

TN: Actually I get stuck in modes. I have forever been in a blue/purple mode. Everything I am doing usually has some blue if not a lot of blue in the piece. Blue represents meditation and spirituality. Hence the name of my site: I've been trying to expand out of these colours...I've added red to the repertoire. Red, for me, adds an element of boldness and courage to a piece. So basically, the answer is...I choose colours on the basis of their spiritual significance. Usually I am attempting to convey an emotion with a colour.

GenJ: Please tell us a bit about how you became an artist. (When/how you started, what influences have propelled you forward, etc.)

TN: There was not one moment in life when I decided I was going to "be an artist." I was always creative as a child. In college I was the art director for my freshman class. Throughout my life I have always been involved in some sort of creativity, whether it was in my dress, in traditional visual arts, or in my spirituality. For a while motherhood completely consumed all of my time. One day I woke up and felt that I had lost the part of me that made me a unique individual. That same day I went out and purchased some canvases, paints, and brushes and created a lovely mizrah motif. I really put my heart and soul into that piece. This was about four years ago. I did not start out calling myself an artist. People I knew would introduce me to their friends as "an artist."What propels me forwarded artistically is life. As long as there is breath in me, I want to create. For a while I got into creating simply to please the consumers, to make money. This proved to be very futile. Futile in the sense that I felt dissatisfied with what I was creating and with myself. I was not expressing myself or creating what I wanted. I felt I had to do this or that in order to fit in with the term of what an "artist" should be. Then I woke up again and realized that it was okay to just be me and to express myself how I wanted and not how it would please anyone else.

GenJ: You're an outspoken advocate for Jewish diversity and inclusiveness. Please tell us about your opinions and your activism, specifically about your involvement with the group Kulanu.

TN: One of my favorite quotes is from the character Agent Mulder from the TV series the X-Files. He says, "No one has jurisdiction over the truth." I take this to mean that no one has a right to say that his or her way of being is the only correct and true way; there is something greater than us. The destruction of the Temple was the result of baselesshatred that the children of Israel had for each other. The Jewish people is made up a myriad of different colours and flavors. Although Torah is paramount, we must not turn our backs on those who are different than our individual communities and families, different than us. Accepting others' rights to exist does not take away from our individual truths. Kulanu (, which means All of Us, is an organization that assists isolated Jewish communities--communities that are either joining the Jewish people for the first time or children of Israel who for some reason over the centuries were forced to convert because of either Islamic jihads or other crusades. I sponsored a book drive for the Abayudaya community in Uganda for their new Jewish High School. Currently I am working on a volunteer basis to set up their online boutique, which sells handcrafted items from communities in India, Africa, and other places.

GenJ: In your opinion, what is art?

TN: I feel that art is whatever you do that you inject your heart, soul, and total being into. Whether it's being a chef, an actress, a physician, or a homemaker. Whatever you do with all your creativity, intuition, and spirit--that is art. If you are doing it with a spirit to bring joy or healing to others, then in my opinion, it is art.

GenJ: What are you working on now? What's on the horizon?

TN: Presently I am doing sketch studies on orchids. Attempting to understand composition and which arrangements speak to me. I am also working on a watercolour series including a Birkat HaBayit motif as well as various verses for Tehillim and Torah.

GenJ: What do you think about the art/work relationship and how do you find balance?

TN: I would like to paint all the time; well, along with caring for my children of course. Presently I am not able to make a living with my art alone. Mostly because I am not able to give enough time to creativity as I would like. It's difficult to find a balance between art, child raising, and other work. Although art is intrinsic to my being, at this time my children are young and need me more, so they win!

GenJ: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TN: Do not be afraid to pursue your dreams. The only thing you have to fear is yourself, holding you back from being all that you can be. A kind word and a smile can work miracles in someone's life; its effect is far greater than you could fathom. So....heed the cliched statement...Go out and perform random acts of kindness. I think these two statements are the best I can leave you with and would help tikkun olam.


Post a Comment

<< Home