We had the good fortune of connecting with Syahidah Osman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Syahidah, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Balance for me, is about spending quality time with my family, fitness, art practice, work and self-care.

Quality time for my family could be watching TV, chores, sitting by the fire, hiking or road trips but I look forward most to chauffeuring my sons and using that time to just share our day and communicate our frustrations, excitement and our oncoming projects or news we heard or read and sharing our perspectives. With my husband, I look forward most to our nightly chat before he puts his ear plugs to go to sleep.

Fitness is for my sanity and vanity. It is definitely one of my health tools to keep my eczema and depression at bay. Any other benefits I get out of an exercise regime is a bonus.

In regards to my art practice, it happens all the time mentally and anywhere. Work does not start in front of the easel. The accumulation of ideas being executed on canvas or whatever medium I am using for my artwork is almost the last step in the process. Making a list with a timeline helps a lot. But my headspace time where I am not with a pencil or a brush is equally important time to carve. I think that’s when I am trying to fit the jigsaw puzzles of different ideas I have and placed them accordingly.

In the past when my 3 sons are younger, I did go through a period of anxiety where I sacrificed my self-care, fitness and art practice to focus solely on my family and made that my work. I make an active conscious effort to be present even if it’s in minute proportion instead of hours just sitting to next to them.

More importantly, I learnt over the years, balance for me is letting go of things I can’t control and communicating with people who mattered to me about things I want to achieve and rallying for help when deemed necessary.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I don’t know what set me apart from other artists. I don’t go out working on a piece of art to be different. I just do it from being me. I am most proud of when I am standing there at my art exhibition openings. The fact that that I am standing itself is a feat because it is very nerve wrecking to expose my soul, thoughts and feelings through my artworks and sharing it with the world after months of preparation – marketing, invitations, finalizing the price point and dealing with the administrative part of running a small business on the whole.

I am most excited at finding the seed to my idea and exploring ways I can expand it. But It’s also very fragile stage because it could be hinder by self doubts or technical difficulties and sometimes with the busyness of life, I forgot. Thats the worst !

I got here today by climbing slowly. One step at a time. Through perseverance and reaching out to people who knows more. If the person decline to help or was not much of a help, I ask another person. It’s not been easy for me in the beginning with 3 young sons and caring for my schizophrenic ex-husband. I overcome the challenges but accepting to put my studio practice time above chores ! No seriously, reprioritizing was a game changer. I am a mother not a martyr. My house is way messier but I think we all are happier in the household until we find out we have guests coming to our house for a party. It’s full on beast mode with the chores then !

I think there is beauty everywhere even in darkness and difficulties but I feel strongly about injustice. Be it towards women or certain ethnicities. I find any controlling regime repulsive. I think if I can pique a person’s curiosities or touch them emotionally through my artworks, I done my job. If I can fade the taboo or stigma on matters like shame, health and sex through my artworks, I done my job.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my girlfriend is coming over to the DMV area, they know for sure, we will go dancing ! I will look for any dance events in Glen Echo Park’s. If there is none, my to go is The Light Horse with their live music or The Kennedy Arts Center with their outdoor performances. I don’t drink and thus, am the permanent designated driver. I just have to wait for my girlfriends to get drunk to hit the dance floor.

Food wise, since they are the ones visiting, I rather they choose the cuisine they like to partake. Personally, I love True Food Kitchen in Mosaic District because they cater to people who are allergic to gluten and dairy. I have enjoyed Mai Thai Restaurant, Alexandria and Bistrot Lepic & Wine Bar. If we are celebrating something special and like to try vegan I highly recommend Elizabeth’s Gone Raw !

I have an art exhibition at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton so I will take them there too ! The venue used to be a women’s prison and has since been repurposed into a vibrant art space. Torpedo Arts Center is another good spot see all the local’s artists work. Pyramid Arts Center is also another location to view contemporary artworks and artists’ working environs.

Saying all these, more often than not, we love having people over by the fire or potluck with good home cooked food. If the weather is good there are plenty of places to hike or bike thats enjoyable in Northern Virginia. The George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mason Neck, Meadowood, South Run Stream Valley Park is very scenic and kid friendly if they are bringing their kids along.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shout out to my family for sure !!!

I met my active duty officer husband, Chris when he was on a Special Forces project in Kuala Lumpur. So Shout Out to the Army for sending him my way ! He nearly outdo me on the dance floor and that took my breath away and he has not stopped doing so. The taking-my-breath-away part more than the dance mania now ! I am always impressed with his thoughtfulness and speed of accomplishing the tasks I need his help with. The recognition he has that I need space away to do my work and then being together as a couple to reconnect is priceless. Independence is overrated. We need people to accomplish big things.

My son, Fintan has been a rock to me. I could rely on him to look after his siblings and make meals ( his Korean Bulgogi is the bomb ) and that paves the way for me to accomplish the things I need to do. Tiarnan, my 16 year old has an interest in arts has always feedback, critique and makes suggestions readily when I am stuck. I appreciate them both tremendously. Shout out to Ainan, my eldest son in Singapore for maintaining my website all the way from Singapore ! And not forgetting Johan, my littlest who gives me hugs and says he loves my paintings. If he dislikes a piece he will just say that’s “ewww” or “why mum?’ . I dig his plain honesty.

A mandatory shout out to my fellow artist friends, teachers and entrepreneurial friends who are generous in their technical advice or sharing openly the emotional turbulence that comes with pursuing this career. It is a challenge to juggle the business aspect of creative work.

Finally to a shout out to my all my friends and my art loving supporters ! I am grateful for their love.

Website: http://syahidahosman.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/syahidahosman/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/syahidah-osman-68a54691/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/syahidahosmanarts

Yelp: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SyahidahOsman

Other: https://www.workhousearts.org/event/syahidah-osman/

Image Credits
Photo by Christian Lilakos and Dress by Syahidah Osman

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