Thriving in Place: Salma Arastu - We Can't Breathe
40 x 60", Charcoal on Canvas
" We Can't Breathe"
When I heard George Floyd uttering I Can’t Breathe while his neck under the white policeman’s knee for almost nine minutes, my eyes welled up and I almost shouted We Can’t Breathe… It was again a war against racism which is going on for centuries now. My first expression came out on paper:
The stories of the oppression
Killing and lynching are being repeated all around
We are not human if our eyes are not welled up
Or our hearts are not full of tears
We are witnessing around the globe
While the Pandemic is taking lives of these destitute
Administrating systems are killing them in multitude
Is African American Community disposable?
We brought them to this land, imprisoned with chains
Pulling out from their homes against their dreams
For our selfish reasons as slaves
O humanity wake up, wake up!
Own your sins and end the slavery
Which although stamped on the paper
Is still curled up in the hearts
Salma Arastu has been exhibiting in museums, galleries, and public sites for over 40 years. Her education includes Her education includes a BFA from College of Fine arts Hyderabad and a Masters degree in Fine Arts from MS University, Baroda, India.
Her works are influenced by Arabic Calligraphy, miniatures, and Folk art due to her native culture and her residence after marriage in Iran and Kuwait before coming to the US in 1987.
Born into the Hindu tradition in her native India, she later embraced Islam through her marriage. At birth, Ms. Arastu was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, she was able to transcend the barriers often set-forth in the traditions of religion, culture and the cultural perceptions of handicaps. Her personal triumphs have been defined and shaped by the simple principle of faith in The Divine, as the compelling force which has guided her life and work. As a woman, a Hindu, a Muslim and a multi-cultural artist, she sees a unique opportunity to create harmony and world transformation through the expression of The Universal in her art. . She creates paintings and sculptures that break down the barriers that divide us to promote harmony, peace, and understanding.
As a visual artist she has almost 40 plus solo shows to her credit including the US, Germany, Morocco, Kuwait, Iran and India. In 2015 her exhibition held at Museum of Contemporary Religious art ay St. Louis Missouri was widely acclaimed and broadcasted on NPR radio and Public television nationwide. She has also won several awards including the East Bay Community’s fund for artists for 2012, 2014 and 2020 and the City of Berkeley’s Individual Artist grant award for 2015 and 2016. She has three works in public places including a ten feet high steel sculpture at Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She has been invited to present her talk “Seeking Oneness” at museums and universities both domestically and internationally. Some locations include the University of Munster, Germany, the Museum of Contemporary Religious art, St. Louis University, Seattle University, Stanford University and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.