I was so excited to finally get to talk to Nadia Nizamudin at length for this episode – we’ve been remotely orbiting each other for a while now, and this conversation did not disappoint! Nadia is a visual artist from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, who works in a variety of media including embroidery, painting, printmaking, and collage. Nadia and I talk all things mothering, working, and art-ing from opposite sides of the world.
Many of Nadia’s works incorporate multiple media, and they representationally oscillate between vibrant abstracts to works depicting scenes from daily life and interpersonal intimacy. In this episode, Nadia discuss how being an artist-mother can be creatively, economically, and ecologically sustainable despite fighting to balance motherhood, a creative career, and her full-time career as an instrument engineer as well as the sometimes conflicting identities that each entails.
Both parenting and being parented have greatly impacted Nadia’s artistic trajectory: her first pregnancy was the pivotal point when she put her lifelong creative spark into practice through an oil painting class and subsequently began a serious studio practice. She talks about the way her parents and her children have shaped her work, from overcoming the “M.E.A.L. mentality” (wherein the only acceptable careers are those in medicine, engineering, architecture, or law) of her parents in order to pursue art in tandem with engineering, to having her kids dictate (in a way) her work in both concept and in medium — for example, which materials her kids won’t get their hands on!
Additionally, Nadia gives us an intimate look into the realities of being a working parent and discusses fears of facing professional discrimination for being a mother (and, in Nadia’s case, an artist-mother). Nonetheless, Nadia wields her artwork as a venue for expressing her own experiences of motherhood — including stigmatized experiences such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.
We talk about finding creative community through social media, international artist-mother groups (like how Nadia and Kaylan came into contact through the Spilt Milk members group show!), and residencies, and Nadia extols the act of reclaiming the joy of making art while navigating such drastically different spaces as art galleries, offshore oil rigs, and the home.
Please check out more of Nadia’s work on Instagram @nadianizamudin
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn