A! Magazine for the Arts

'Transmigration No. 5,' an oil painting by Halidè Salam, is part of 'From These Hills' exhibit

'Transmigration No. 5,' an oil painting by Halidè Salam, is part of 'From These Hills' exhibit

Halidè Salam voices through light and colors

December 29, 2019

Halidè Salam’s paintings are filled with her love for the elements of nature.

“As I reflect, I find that my work has always been about the land although never a landscape in the traditional sense. My paintings are not pictures of the land or its static moments in time. It is an internalized empathy of experiences within our natural environments. It is an understanding that comes from being all around it, walking on it, seeing, feeling and touching it, reading about it and listening to it. Through the years, crossing continents and moving through land, sea and space, I have come to see a consistent order that expands into myriads of patterns – rhythmic markings and solidified light living within an organic order.

“I voice through sunlight and color. Pigments are of the earth and the medium that I use is oil which is also a natural element that is found in our own bodies. I find a bodily connection with this medium. I have explored making my own pigments grinding stones that I harvested to make pigments. Taking something dry and solid and transforming it into something soft to the point it becomes liquid borders around alchemy. I have always been interested in alchemy,” she says.

Her work in the “From These Hills” exhibit is called “Transmigration No. 5.”

The show’s juror, Rebecca Elliott, explains why she chose this piece. “One of the artists that comes from art of the spiritual is Halide Salam who experiences the divine through the process of painting. She is an immigrant from Bangladesh and a Muslim, and she experiences that in her paintings. She writes about her paintings as all-at-one space where multiple identities and multiple memories come together. Her painting is all in one space and is a collective of her multiple identities, memories and ideas.

“This painting spoke to me, reminding me of parallel spaces of memories and ideas and the collective unconscious. There is a pattern of an arch and a red space inside the arch with the green space all in the same plane. It is a liminal, transitional space preparing you to connect with the divine. There are also interesting things going on in the composition with colors and patterns. It’s beautiful.”

Salam comes from the school of sacred geometry and universal patterns, she finds connections with the everyday phenomenon in nature and her life experiences with sacred texts. She belongs to the school of contemporary aniconic (symbolic or suggestive rather than literally representational) art where the image is the vestige, effect or end result of this sojourn in space.

“I don’t work representationally, but my work is about my experiences, memories and spiritual connections to land, space and time. The Highlands is as much a part of me as the mountains of New Mexico, the Highlands of Scotland or the rivers of Bangladesh. These experiences metastasize into an ordered vision.

“I come from a premise that patterns in nature are based on the number 1 (the point). And that through a succession of proportional relationships, the perceived world is built through intricate and continuous woven patterns of variances to lead the mind back to that ‘Oneness.’ This form of mindfulness teaching resonates within me and connects me to living organisms. In each painting, I investigate the many paths that can lead me to that thought. It is a visual dialogue that behind the physical choices of arranging and proportioning color, shapes and lines, the textural forms that materialize are metaphysical paradigms,” Salam says.

Salam received her Master of Art in painting from New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Ph. D in fine arts, studio from Texas Tech University She teaches at Radford University, Radford, Virginia.

She paints and exhibits in national and international galleries and museums, winning numerous awards in painting and collage. Recently, she won the Open Call Award at the Athenaeum, Alexandria, Virginia, for the exhibition “Glow.” Her painting, “Title Withheld No. 6” was chosen by the U.S. Department of State, Art in Embassies Program to represent American artists’ work overseas. Her work is in numerous collections nationwide and overseas.

She has presented lectures and papers on art and art history during her teaching career, within and outside the United States. Her book, “Between Two Spaces: Reflections on the Spiritual in Art,” was published by Pocahontas Press in January of 2008, and was nominated for the 2008 National Book Award in Non-Fiction. The book traces the intellectual and spiritual development of a visual artist living between two cultures, one that she has been born and raised in and the other where she is crystallizing.

“I came from a war-torn country (Banladesh) that became a country while I was a refugee immigrant in the United States. I have spent 42 years of my life educating students of Southwest Virginia and beyond. And I feel blessed that my students are successful artist/individuals placed all over United States, most of whom I am in touch with,” Salam says.

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