Natasha Shoro is a contemporary visual artist based In Southern California. Born in Ithaca, New York to Pakistani parents and works and resides in Irvine, California..
Shoro's genres include abstract mixed media and mixed media collage paintings to site specific installations which address topics from her life experiences of being a woman with multi-cultural influences. She finds inspiration from her travels and is inspired by the aerial cartographies in nature.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design with honors and distinction from Iowa State University, Natasha spent her undergraduate years developing a body of work on paper and canvas using translucent acrylic washes inspired by Abstract Expressionism. Receiving two grants, one for her honors project Riding the Waves and the other for a Focus Grant Painting on Fabrics, enabled Natasha to explore various processes. Natasha competed in a regional art competition at the Brunnier Gallery and Museum in Ames, Iowa were her Ethnic series was honored as "best in show" at the Brunnier Gallery Museum.
Natasha continues to exhibit internationally. Her work has evolved over the years and masters a variety of multi media techniques. Natasha's passion for mark-making in drawing and painting encourages a journey of self-discovery and investigation of personal space and overlapping identity.
She received her MFA in Drawing, Painting and Printmaking from California State University, Fullerton.
Nigaah: Why did you choose to work in abstract mixed media collage?
Natasha Shoro: The abstract mixed media collages are special to me. They live in my subconscious memory as mind maps, reminding me of my travels to Europe, Africa, South East Asia, United States, and my family roots from Pakistan.
I traveled all my life, as my father was an hotelier. I remember looking through the airplane windows fascinated by the aerial landscapes that have resulted in my Earth Skins, Aerial Mapping, Spatial Identity, and Essence of Being series. I grasp the colors from the various cultures and explore mark-making techniques to create a variety of textures and patterns.
My deep-rooted fascination is from the formation of clouds, the feeling of being underwater in the sea, and feeling the energy of the sun and rain. Since childhood, I have had the urge to sit for hours producing art with a variety of multi-media and layered painted surfaces. This escape is the exploration of my identity and has led me to develop new concepts based on my life experiences both in and out of my studio practice.
The collages represent a unique language of my deep-rooted culture — unique to others. Mother-nature being my true inspiration has enabled me to overlap the cultural boundaries of these countries in a way that symbolize my “being.”
During my undergraduate studies in Ames, Iowa in 1991, I received “Best in Show” for my abstract mixed media paper collage titled “Ethnic Identity” at the Brunnier Art Museum. This encouraged me to keep experimenting with collage for which I was most recently honored at the 9th annual art walk of the American Institute of Architects in Orange County, California (AIA, OC), and won “Best in show” in July 2018 for my “After the Storm” mixed media collage piece, assembled with fragments of canvas. The traditional ways of working with drawing, painting, and mixed media techniques, allow me to explore beauty and chaos, deconstruct, reconstruct, reassemble, and collage smaller fragments from past artworks into Earth Skins. The two-dimensional works of art are further developed with adding layers of the patterned natural environment. This brings the abstract landscapes to life; multiple layers which create depth within the compositions.
Nigaah: Who in your opinion is an iconic artist of Abstract Expressionism whose work inspires you?
Natasha Shoro: During my childhood, I was gifted a book on Jackson Pollock’s work by my late aunt Nighat Sultan Ahmed, an artist and art educator, and her husband late Sultan Ahmed, a renowned journalist in Pakistan. At that time I was in high school, exploring the various mark-making techniques inspired by Abstract Expressionism, and deeply moved by Carl Young’s theory of Man and His Symbols. It is with this theory and through embracing my subconscious memories that I develop new concepts. Pollock’s random, linear gestural marks and multitude of layers of paint have intrigued me.
Nigaah: Tell us something about The Essence of Being. What inspired you to do that?
Natasha Shoro: I have always had a spiritual connection with my work, which has led me to create prominent and fluid strokes. My inner space and feeling evolves from the mercy of the womb and from which the mother instinct and mother-daughter interconnection is formed.
My experience has been natures gift — a gift that uplifts my spiritual existence and me — my being. I continue to see the layers and screens through which I live, which give a sense of containment and fluid space with self-discovery and reflection of my surroundings, much like being in a womb. Exploring The Essence of Being with my daughter Anushe, has been an unexplainable experience where my creativity alongside hers unfolds more beauty. This truly special connection has fostered our spirituality with Mother-nature together, and much like my connection to my art, Anushe explores her identity and being through her writing and photography.
Exposed to the Eastern and Western worlds through my roots, I feel my identity soars through the layers of color and intuitive, gestural, hand-drawn, and painted marks. This inner space is overlapped with my outer space, which are reflected in mapping of aerial views, ocean depths, and desert-like spaces from my travels. The fluidity of crossing boundaries and overlapping bring upon the relationships of world religions and my spiritual being on earth. Transformation develops my visual language, a language that celebrates my being on Earth.
The Mapping Festival (made up of Earth Skins #1 to #24) is the skin of the earth with which I have a deep connection, bringing me peace. It is with this process of experimental art, that I feel the layers and transparencies of my essence unfolding in front of me.
Nigaah: What are you painting these days?
Natasha Shoro: I continue to work on my artwork at both the micro and macro levels, working on smaller pieces and larger pieces, and also focusing on the big picture landscapes and intricate patterns found in nature like on leaves. As a swimmer, the feeling of me being contained within water fascinates me. Mother-nature influences the abstract aerial landscapes of the earth, water, wind, and fire. I am currently exploring and understanding my existence through the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.
Fire and Sun giving me strength as I wake up every morning feeling energized by the warmth of the California sun — this feeling brings fullness to my life, pure joy. For which I am very grateful.
Earth is where I work on transformation, bringing the old creations into new forms. I am intrigued by my garden succulents that wilt away and new ones blossom with the energy of the Sun.
The ever-changing Air (or wind) has an important role, which encourages the feeling of simply being. Life to me is precious and has me focusing on my being — breathing in and out, absorbing the air, embracing new concepts, new beginnings and increasing the power of creativity.
Water plays the most important role in my work — fluidity. I paint from my inner most emotions, working intuitively from unconscious to subconscious memories — overlapping the past to the present, making the works special for me. My life journey is to embrace change, transform, love, and respect my being.
Nigaah: How do you compare art scene of Pakistan within global audience?
Natasha Shoro: The contemporary art scene of Pakistan was underdeveloped in comparison to other countries when I was residing in Pakistan. In recent years, there has been a growth with several new galleries opening up all over Pakistan creating an appreciation for artists who work with a variety of media. There are incredible artists and artisans from Pakistan that may only have collectors from that country or region. With social media, there is the opportunity for Pakistani artists to promote themselves on a more global level. Myself being an art educator in California, I would like to see our Pakistani-American artists to have greater exposure in the United States at a national and international level.
Nigaah: What would you classify as your most favorite piece?
Natasha Shoro: “After the Rain,” 2016 is my favorite piece. It is a mixed media collage painting from the Essence of Being series and is the cover design of my recent published book “Natasha Shoro, The Essence of Being,” written by my daughter Anushe Shoro. My other favorite is the mixed media collage “After the Storm,” 2018. It is my most recent award-winning piece. I feel that both these pieces celebrate my being, bringing together old and new fragments. Life is filled with fragments of my dreams and memory. The focus for me is to dive deeper into my being by deconstructing, reconstructing, and assembling the multi-layered stories that create my Essence of Being.
Nigaah: In your opinion, what should be the role of the curator to promote an artist’s work?
Natasha Shoro: The role of a curator to promote an artist’s work is to help and to guide their career and open up opportunities for the work to be seen in different contexts. The curator should present the artist’s work, in a way to develop a story and relationship of understanding about the work.
Nigaah: How has been your experience of winning Best in Show award for your titled ‘After the Storm’ at this years AIA Orange County 9th Annual Artwalk?
Natasha Shoro: In my experience of winning “Best In Show” for the AIA OC 9th annual art walk, was an opportunity to introduce my work to the architectural and interior design community in association with the AIA in Orange County. Also, by posting the award video on social media brought about a news piece on Pakistani news, which ultimately led to exposure to a Pakistani-American artist and the sale of the award winning work to an avid art collector.