Could you introduce yourself? My name is Muhsana Ali. I am a visual artist born in the United States. I have been living and working in Senegal for more than 16 years.
Why did you choose this job? I always liked painting. At the age 3 I had an attraction for drawing. My mother supported me by enrolling me in schools where art was one of the main activities. It was at the age of 12 that I knew that I would become a painter.
As an artist, how would you define yourself? Our society inspires me, so I am very attentive and observer of what is happening around me. I would like my work to inspire and have an impact on the improvement of the community. Even if it’s a simple painting, I wish it could have a positive impact on people.
Which artists do you admire? Who inspired you? The first artist who inspired me a lot is a Serbian artist named Marina Abramovic. She has a spiritual base that defines her,often dramatic, work, namely her performances and installations.
I’m not a performance artist, but I’m guided by my belief and I refuse to put myself in a box. That’s why I do not work in a single field but with subjects that speak to me and that better express the message I’m trying to convey, whether with painting, sculpture, mosaic, engraving, installation, video or photo.
Izaiah Zagar, an artist who lives and works in Philadelphia (USA), is very important to me too. Izaiah is a mentor for me in the field of mosaic and I had the chance to study with him in 2004. He is a very generous person who produced more than 100 monumental mosaics in the city of Philadelphia among others .
My most monumental works were made using the technique he passed on to me.
How do you work? I open myself to the inspiration that comes from the Almighty. I manage to connect fluidly and without blocking with this energy that I need. When the idea comes up, I have to realize it quickly and from that moment I have to allow myself to be guided from beginning to end.
That’s why I make very rudimentary sketches before starting a work, whatever the size of the work is. From these sketchy drawings, I consider the rest as divine inspiration.
What is your particularity, your singularity? I am myself. I do not try to imitate others or follow a trend. I remain honest and do not hesitate to be original.
But maybe others will be able to better answer this question.
Which of your creations do you like the most? My last work. Each work is an inspiration for the next work as each experience guides us and prepares us for the next one in life.
What are your current projects? I am currently preparing an alternative mosaic project in the city of Joal-Fadiouth (a city in Senegal where one of the largest artisanal fishing ports in West Africa is located).
The work that I will showcase will be part of a artistic residency project that I organize within the framework of my association, “Doors and Passages of the Return”. The artists will present works that will address the disappearance of several species of fish due to the practice of illegal and excessive fishing on the coast of West Africa.