Based in New York, Shahaan O. Azeem immigrated to the United States at a very young age. Growing up with American culture, while maintaining his own cultural identity would be very important in shaping Shahaan’s identity. The constant push/pull between these two cultures would also help to inform his work, which explores themes of identity, equality, perception, and representation.
Shahaan received his MFA from Lehman College, where his work focused on the perception and representation of Muslim men in American society. With the recent civil unrest and protests in this country, Shahaan’s work has become more socially relevant, as his paintings explore themes of privilege and inequality prevalent in American society.
Artist: Shahaan Azeem
Based in USA
What type of art do you produce? What makes it unique?
The type of art I produce explores complex issues of identity, equality, and representation within our society. These issues are central to my work and revolve around questions of human interaction, with oneself, and with others in society. My subject matter is drawn from current events, as well as my life experiences growing up as an immigrant in the United States.
I feel my vision is what brings uniqueness to my art practice. My vision is an amalgamation of my thoughts, ideas, and life experiences, which continuously evolves and shapes my art practice.
What message(s) do you aim to express through your artwork?
I use my art to explore issues I feel are important or relevant in our society. I find myself gravitating towards matters of the human condition and human interaction within the context of our society. These issues predominantly deal with themes of identity, equality, perception and representation.
How does art allow for you to address these social issues?
Art gives me a voice for my ideas and allows me to examine social issues in a way I could not do otherwise. When I feel I have thoroughly explored these issues, my art then becomes a platform to introduce my ideas and thoughts to a greater audience.
Why is it important that art gives people the opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas?
Art is an important platform for the exchange of thoughts and ideas, and artists should be able to use art to give voice to their ideas, no matter what direction it may take them. This is important because art can be a powerful tool for social change by starting difficult yet essential conversations.
How do you hope to impact the world with your artwork, no matter how big or small?
I create art in hopes of starting a conversation around topics that are important to myself, society, and the world in general. I want my work to open up avenues of questioning and thought regarding our interactions with our fellow human beings and with society as a whole. Why do we think the way we do regarding race, ethnicity, equality, opportunity? What factors lead to the ostracization of others? I want my art to explore these hard questions and become the catalyst for discussion and analyzation.