Shahnaz El Rawi is an artist originally from Bagdad. Two years ago, she moved to Maryland with her three daughters in order to build a new life. A self-taught painter, Shahnaz combines her passion for traditional folklore and art. Combining these elements, she creates vivid portraits of her beloved country. With each unique piece, Shahnaz seeks to create a connection between the present and her rich cultural history.
In each of her paintings, traditional motifs such as ‘the evil eye’, Arabic letters, and numbers can be found. Shahnaz also creates folk art using a variety of mediums such as mirrors, coins, fabric, and flowers woven together to create decorative pieces symbolic of her home country, Iraq.
“Painting is part of me. I painted a lot in elementary school and high school but never took art classes. The purpose of many of my pieces is to bring good luck to the owner. In Iraq if you hang these on your wall, your life grows and gets better.”
Through our Entrepreneur Training for Success program, Shahnaz has launched her company, Babylon Spirit. In the past few months she has sold several pieces, diversified and improved her product line, participated in art markets and events, and painted a mural at Lutheran Social Services.
When asked how EWI’s training has helped her, she told us, “Thank you for everything you helped me with. I will never forget this training. I am so glad I found my way to the U.S. I just want to share my work with the world.”
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