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NEWSLETTER

COMING SOON!

  • Elizabeth Hazard

Brenda Nasr: An Artistic Visionary with a Newfound Focus




Brenda Nasr, a highly skilled and versatile artist, embraces her recent visual disability as a catalyst for artistic growth.


Brenda Nasr is a multi talented and multifaceted artist who is facing challenges most artists of her caliber would find daunting. Having recently been diagnosed with a visual disability that has her slowly losing her ability to see, Nasr has not let this impact her craft but rather has further propelled her ambitions as an artist, albeit through a different lens. Perhaps it’s this new viewpoint that has the artist creating some of her best work yet. 


We had the pleasure of chatting with her about her work and its evolution recently. She discusses her new focus as an artist, her limitations and how she overcomes them, and her most current body of work. 



You recently shifted your focus from being a fashion photographer to incorporating a more bold, abstract approach to your work. Can you tell me how and why this shift happened?


I would say it’s less of a shift and more of a return to my true self by removing the constraints of creating solely to meet others' expectations. In terms of fashion, while I still have a love for it, I am letting go of the industry's strict norms and embracing my own vision and voice.


Looking back over the years, I see my attempts to experiment with color similar to my current style, but ultimately, I succumbed to playing it safe in order to advance goals that I feel no longer serve me. It was only until recently, when limited resources forced me to tap into experimentation again, that I could return to my roots and blend photography and art in a way that felt authentic and true to who I am as an artist. Rediscovering my creative voice by embracing the art forms that have always resonated with me, like abstract painting, feels full circle and freeing.



How would you describe your work?


My art blends vibrant colors, textures, and raw emotions in a unique fusion of painting and photography, with a pop art sensibility. I create genre-bending pieces that blur the lines between painting and photography, creating a continuum where each medium coexists and pushes the boundaries of the other. Through color, I represent the masks we wear to conceal our inner emotions, a personal metaphor reflected in my art.





What are you currently working on?


I'm delving into a new travel Series, an exploration of my past experiences and memories. During a pivotal chapter in my life, I embarked on a solo journey around the world, visiting approximately 20 countries over a span of three years. With the absence of social media, I was fully present in each moment. Although I have only a few photographs from that time, I'm drawing upon my vivid memories to recreate and reimagine those experiences. Through this series, I aim to capture the essence of my travels using bold colors to represent the vibrancy and depth of my memories.



You are vocal about your disability. Can you tell us how this has impacted you and your work? Describe to us what it means to see through your eyes if you can.


My disability plays a significant role in my art, influencing not only the execution of it due to certain limitations but also my visual perception itself. Previously, I attempted to create pieces that simulated my tunnel vision experience (tunnel vision is the best way to describe how I see the world), but those attempts fell flat and felt forced. Now my work more naturally reflects my unique sight.


For instance, due to my limited peripheral vision, I may only be able to focus on a specific detail, like an eye or a part of the face, rather than seeing a face in its entirety, depending on the circumstances. Instead of explaining this, I highlight these details in my work, isolating and emphasizing them to create a more intimate focus. Similarly, I sometimes experience flashes of light when transitioning between low and bright light settings, which I incorporate into my art. By doing so, I offer a more direct and authentic representation of my sight experience.





Do you find motivation and healing through your work? Do you try to express this through your art?

 

Yes, my work is healing to me. In the past, I often embraced a darker aesthetic in my drawings and paintings, which reflected my personal struggles. However, during my father's hospitalisation and eventual passing, I turned to painting as a coping mechanism. Surprisingly, I found myself drawn to palettes that were previously unexpected for me - soft pinks, purples, and other calming colors. These colors, which I later realized were reminiscent of my childhood, brought me comfort and solace. Through this process, I discovered the therapeutic power of color during a very challenging time.


Additionally, as previously mentioned, I have come to view color as a poignant metaphor for my relationship with myself. I have identified the ways I have been masking through life - projecting a sunny disposition (color), while grappling with inner emotional turmoil. Acknowledging and naming this experience has allowed me to confront and process my emotions, fostering healing. This new body of work is also motivating because of the large component of experimentation. I become thrilled with new color combinations or effects I hadn't yet discovered, which spurs me on to create even more.





Can you explain your current body of work titled "Pangean?" What does the name mean? 


“Pangean” is a series of six works employing a multi-step technique where I crafted figurative works on paper using a mixture of charcoal, pigments, and acrylics, scanned and then digitally colorized each piece. The works reference geological phenomena that resemble abstract faces and shapes representing our symbiotic relationship with the planet. The name is derived from Pangea, the ancient supercontinent that predated the modern continents. This was the first thing that came to mind when creating this series.



Artception is a body of work that specifically addresses your challenges. How did the project evolve? 


I believe this project was a precursor to my current style, as I saw a parallel between my photography and art, particularly my paintings. I physically merged these mediums by having my paintings turned into beauty photographs, with makeup by the talented Sasha Lutfullina inspired by my artwork, and illustrations by the amazing Silvan Borer that combined both mediums.


This project is special because the paintings I chose were part of my healing process after being diagnosed with my eye condition (retinitis pigmentosa), and working through the grief of losing my sight. In many of those works, I focused on depictions of disfiguration or imperfection of the eyes, which reflected my emotional state and struggles with my changing vision at the time. However the merged art felt much more optimistic (to me), which I believe represented the culmination of my healing journey.





What do you imagine and dream of for yourself this year?

 

I’m really hopeful about my finding a proper platform that will help my work reach the people who will truly connect with it. I believe that my art and my story have the power to resonate deeply with a specific audience, and I hope to find the exposure needed to reach those individuals.



How does your work give you strength for the future? 


I used to grapple with overwhelming anxiety about my future in photography, particularly as my visual decline presented unavoidable limitations. However, by embracing a new perspective on my craft, I feel a sense of peace and liberation, allowing me to redefine success on my own terms.





Follow Brenda on Instagram and check out her website.


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