by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Saved by art and inspired by women, artist and poet Isabella Alsharif delivers an array of female representation at the well-traveled Tallahassee Artport Gallery. Her exhibit, “Her Golden Renaissance,” runs through March 26.
For painter and poet Isabella Alsharif, creating art literally saved her life.
Decades ago, as the Scorpio sun lined up with the Leo moon on Oct. 23, Isabella Alsharif came into the world a slight shade of blue. At that Marine-based hospital, the doctor cut the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and declared that Alsharif suffered severe brain damage, and would never be able to walk or talk.
Alsharif’s mother took one look at her baby girl and knew better. Alsharif recounts, “She exposed me to different forms of art to create new synapsis and connections in my brain. To activate the right side of my brain, and hopefully, that would help with the left side. She would take me to Shakespearean plays at, like, 2 years old, [and to] art galleries. She took me to art therapy, and by the time I was 4 years old, all of my brain damage was gone.”
Although Alsharif rightfully credits her mother for exposing her to the power of art, her commitment to pursuing art as a form of release and rehabilitation led her to create the empowering pieces she displays today. Alsharif finds inspiration in her daughter and the spiritual connectedness all women have in nature, animals, and each other.
Alsharif was born in North Carolina, raised in South Carolina, and eventually landed in Charleston, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art. She painted for a while until life took over. She traveled, got married and pregnant, and then something in her clicked. It was as if a switch had gone off, and she suddenly saw the world differently. After the end of a 12-year marriage, which serendipitously moved her from Chicago to Tallahassee, Alsharif rebuilt and blossomed.
Again, she turned to art and community to regain a sense of self and artistry. “This past year, I really pushed myself to get into the art community. And I wish that I got into it sooner because it’s so beautiful here,” says Alsharif. “I just feel so loved and supported. It’s incredible.”
Alsharif calls on this community through spiritual connection and empowerment when painting. She feels that it is through art that she can challenge and engage in who she can become. Her daughter’s birth gave Alsharif a purpose in her painting; to show women as beautiful, authentic, powerful beings.
The intricate, detailed brush strokes layered with delicately-placed gold leaf seen in Alsharif’s work exude an undeniable sense of elegance. Meditation and intuition lead Alsharif through initially sketching her ideas and eventually layering paint and gold leaf to create large-scale pieces that range around 48” x 60.”
Inspired by art and spiritualism, she communicates with colors and finds the repetitive nature of her detailed work to be almost hypnotic, like the Buddhist mandala creations in the sand. ”The detail work, which for me is a form of meditation, it’s very meditative. That’s why it’s so detailed. It puts me in a zone like a flow state where everything else, the outside world, is just outside, and time doesn’t exist. It’s very therapeutic for me.”
Alsharif’s work, “Her Golden Renaissance,” is one of many rotating exhibitions curated by the Council on Culture & Arts on behalf of the City of Tallahassee as part “of the Art in Public Places program. The series explores women as creators of life and divine beings.
Read the rest of the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.
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