Art knows no boundaries, from the deserts of Kuwait to the deserts of New Mexico, Zahra Marwan weaves a tale of two deserts with her nostalgic illustrations. Her beautiful and bubbly personality not only makes you fall in love with her illustrations, but also the stories behind them. At 30-years-old, she has already completed hundreds of illustrations in different mediums, and has just concluded her artist residency at the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre in Kuwait.
Zahra first began painting when one of her brothers had her draw a ninja turtle back when she was just a kid, and when she was in high school, he encouraged her to start taking art classes. “I have three older brothers and I copied everything they did, which I’m sure didn’t make them happy, from Russian literature to taekwondo and drawing,” she says.
When observing her illustrations, you’ll instantly see that a lot of Zahra’s work is inspired by her family roots, and the strong connection she has towards both of her hometowns; Kuwait and New Mexico. She puts it best by posing the question “What is art if not a reflection of your environment?” The repetition of specific imagery is prominently featured in her illustrations. For example, a fish usually represents Kuwait or the sea, “Which someone recently told me in Kuwait is a cliché, but for me, it’s a big part of being Kuwaiti.” Other frequently revisited imagery includes coyotes and a colorful desert, both a reflection of the habitat of New Mexico.