Member Spotlight: Shahnaz

27 Sep

Shahnaz, a self-taught painter from Iraq is one of the eleven women currently enrolled in our Entrepreneur Training for Success program.  She moved to the U.S. two years ago after her husband passed and lives with her daughters in Maryland.

One of Shahnaz's paintings.

Shahnaz’s paintings,  based on her cultural heritage, illustrate stories from her country and often include historical Iraqi ruins.  When asked about painting, she tells us, “Painting is part of me. I painted a lot in elementary school and high school but never took art classes.”  Shahnaz’s art is truly unique in the way that she integrates names, numbers, and letters as symbols of luck.  She explained, “The purpose of many of my pieces is to bring good luck to the owner.”

Shahnaz sharing one of her paintings with the class.

In addition to her paintings, Shahnaz creates traditional Iraqi folklore items.

“These are traditional pieces that are found in villages and farms. They serve as pieces of good luck to ward off evil. I use beads and coins to decorate them, and mirrors to keep evil spirits away.”

Shahnaz learned how to create these as a young girl in Baghdad.

“In Iraq if you hang these on your wall, your life grows and gets better.”

By attending EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success, Shahnaz hopes to grow and improve her own life.

Shahnaz working with Sarah (an EWI mentor) on identifying target markets.

Some of her goals are to learn how to exhibit her work in the U.S., develop a business, price her pieces, build a website, and learn how to market herself.  In Iraq, Shahnaz was a kindergarten teacher so in addition to turning her art into a career, she dreams of returning to teaching and would love to teach art to children as well as write and illustrate children’s books based on her rich cultural heritage.

After our initial meeting, Shahnaz told us, “I am so glad I found my way to the U.S. I just want to share my work with the world.”


2 Responses to “Member Spotlight: Shahnaz”

  1. Cristianna Hart October 8, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    I am interested in her paintings and would like to know more about them…cost..availability. How do I contact her? Thanks so much.

    • empoweredwomenint October 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

      Hi Christine, you can can email Shahnaz at

      Thank you for your interest!

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