Artist Mashail Faqeeh is a 21 years old, recent graduate in Marketing. She spends a lot of her time creating intricate contemporary embroidery pieces and writing poetry. I felt it would be best to introduce her with a post she recently did on Creativity and Over working, that I and a lot of artists can relate too.
I fell in love with embroidery at a very early age, I was 10 years old and I remember embroidering that whole year, I think I didn’t stop till I was 12, and then when I fell in love again in 2013, I didn’t stop embroidering for a single day (including vacations) till April 2016. Crazy, right? People would always tell me to take a break, but I didn’t feel like I needed one, really. I felt great the whole time embroidery keeps me sane and I don’t regret working this hard. When I used to “take a break” from commission work, I would embroider my own things, that’s my way of taking a break that’s the only way I could function.
Last year for me was crazy busy and overwhelming, I was a senior at college, studying two majors, and I was also working at an advertising company, imagine adding embroidery work to that pile but I managed to do that as well, and looking back at it now I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. Again I don’t regret it I discovered that I’m capable of doing so many things at one time and I managed to keep my “put together” face the whole time, even to my own parents, I knew I would feel weak if I complained to my mom, I knew I would collapse all together, and so I didn’t.
After I graduated from college I was working at the same company full time from 9 till 7, my mental and physical energy were so drained, but I still managed to squeeze embroidery somewhere in the morning and at night, and then it finally came. I had this feeling where I couldn’t even hold the needle, even my attention to detail and my skill at embroidering became weaker and weaker, I didn’t want to hate the only thing I love doing, but I couldn’t make myself stop. Embroidery controlled all my thoughts and emotions, it was an addictive way of healing, and I had to control it.
It’s been almost two weeks now, no embroidery, I’m going crazy, but I’m okay. I had to discover myself once again, I had to be “bored” I want to read all the books in the world. I told myself that it’ll only be one month, but two weeks in and discovered that I don’t know how to relax, how to take a breath. I think the hardest thing to do is to do nothing.
What inspires you to create your work?
I guess what inspires me the most is beauty, as general as it may sound, I tend to see beauty in everything, even sadness and grief, and I’m not afraid to associate them with colours!
What are the reoccurring themes in your artwork?
I’m still discovering my style, but I guess I always go back to using a lot of patterns and bold colors, and nature as well, lots of leaves and flowers. I also like to embroider facial features; I believe they give the piece a more relatable personalized aspect.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
Still figuring that out as well, but I guess at the end of the day I’m trying to communicate a feeling, even if the piece just looks pretty in a way and it vibrates the feeling of joy then my job is done here.
What got you interested in doing this type of work by stitching/embroidery and how long have you been doing this for?
I have been doing embroidery artwork since I was 10 years old, after the school provided us with a short program to teach us basic embroidery stitches. As a kid, I was never good at drawing, coloring, painting, and so embroidering made more sense to me, and as I grew older it became my passion, it gives the piece a 3D texture that painting and coloring could never provide.
How long does it take you to do one piece?
Oh a lot of time, that’s the challenging part about it, and it depends on the kind of stitches and the size of the piece of course, but I never finished a piece, no matter how small, in one day. You can build on that for my regular pieces, some of them take a month to finish.
I noticed you also published a book with short poems. Can you tell me more about this? What’s your favorite poem you’ve written?
This small collection of poems were written by me in the past two years, I write sometimes and I don’t call myself an “author” but I published it mainly for it to reach people, and for them to feel relatable in a way.
My favorite poem that I wrote is this one it’s called “Still”:
so much from me
me and myself
we don’t get along very well
and if I have to
be your rock
I’ll gladly do it
for I am nothing but a rock
a solid useless object
who’s good at nothing but
You can purchase her new poetry book Stitched which consists of 34 short poems.
Sara F is an Artist & independent curator, her main area of focus is supporting emerging artists and making sure people of colour get to showcase their work in a gallery space. She will be featuring some of her favourite Arab Artists with interviews. You can find her at @frozenvanity