My name is Mariam Ghanem also known as “Galleriadimariam”.. I am a 25 years old Egyptian visual artist. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from the American University in Cairo.
For a long time, I wasn’t sure that was the path I was meant to take as my first couple of university years were confusing for me switching from major to major, and to be honest Visual Arts seemed like the last resort it was never my first option or priority. So I switched majors during my third year and since then, my journey began and my whole perspective on art transformed.
I always knew how to paint and draw since I was little. Art was always a passion and a fun hobby but as I said, never a priority. Even after college, I envisioned myself having a different career besides being an artist, so I tried being an Art Teacher at an international school in Egypt. I taught students from Kindergarten to Lower Elementary. I recently quit my job a few months ago and decided to pursue my dream to be a full-time artist, and finally, my new journey is beginning to unfold before my eyes.
Hello Galleriadimariam! How did you become a visual artist? Is there a particular experience that drove you to choose that road?
Galleriadimariam: Hello Lisa! Thank you for featuring me in your magazine, I am glad to answer your questions. Well, the path I first took that led me to become a visual artist was in university. for the first three years, I wasn’t sure which major I fit in most. I always had an artistic talent and passion but I never really took it seriously, until I came across the visual arts program at university. I have been to several galleries held on campus by the visual art program and was overwhelmed as well as intrigued because it was very different from the art I knew my whole life, an entirely different perspective, theory, and aesthetics. So I decided to switch majors and give into art. When I first started, I struggled a bit because I was being introduced to something very new and unique, totally different from what I had known my whole life and how I used to see “art”. This was the start of my adventure, that changed me into the artist I am today.
What was the first work that really mattered to you?
Galleriadimariam: I think the first artwork that really mattered to me was a series of paintings I created for my senior project at university (art thesis) which I took very seriously and was invested in every means, body, mind, and soul. My concept started off by something very so simple, which I then researched deeply and theoretically. I named it “half alive, partly dead”. the meaning and concept were so strong, I had never imagined myself heading in a dark depth of an art concept like this but it ended up being very successful that resulted in me exhibiting some of the paintings from that series several times in various well-known galleries in my hometown Cairo, Egypt.
What artworks or things keep you company in the space where you work? Do you listen to music while you paint?
Galleriadimariam: I can only paint if I am listening to music, but also painting with emotions I am feeling really drives me to pour my soul into the artwork. I am very emotionally driven and I think some of my artworks can really depict that.
In reflecting back to the start of your artistic endeavor, What is the most useful advice you ever received?
Galleriadimariam: The best advice I received during the start of my artistic endeavor was as simple as “think outside of the box”. This stuck with me because my art prior to my art studies was very different and very kitshe. To me, art was something aesthetically pleasing to look at, not necessarily something you can actually connect with whether on a psychological level or even spiritual or emotional.
If you could be born in another history, When would it be?
Galleriadimariam: I don’t think I would have wanted to be born in any other art period in history. I live in the now, and now you have 1000 kinds of art around you and so many artists with their own style and technique. Everything we know from all the art movements and history, we as artists have the ability to innovate that as well and make something so original and different by combining all types of art together. Literally the sky’s the limit. Back then maybe during the renaissance period, a modern abstract painting could be looked down upon. But now that the art world has expanded and has no limits.
You recently quit your job to pursue your dream to be a full-time artist. How do you feel about that is it scary, exciting?
Galleriadimariam: Quitting my previous job as a school art teacher to pursue my dream to be a full-time artist, is definitely the scariest thing I have encountered in my adulthood so far. I’m taking a huge leap of faith, finally committing to something I am truly passionate about with nothing standing in the way, and also solely relying on my art as my income. It’s very exciting but terrifying for me at the same time.
What are you currently working on?
Galleriadimariam: I am currently not working on a personal masterpiece, because I am working on a few clients’ orders. But meanwhile, I am in the world of brainstorming and researching of a strong statement art piece for my next project
Who are a few artists/people that inspire you right now and why?
Galleriadimariam: I get inspired by new artists every day. Art isn’t just painted on canvas anymore, it’s everywhere now. So I cannot specify a favorite artist I have because I am drawn to so many local and international underground artists I come across every single day. But I would say the person who had inspired me most was my art professor in my Visual Arts program who has transformed me into the artist I am today, and I would not be where I am without him. He is a brilliant Egyptian visual artist and very well known in my country who devotes himself now to sharing everything he knows with the future generation.
What memory responses have you had to your work?
Galleriadimariam: My most memorable response to my work was when I participated in a duo exhibition at the Cairo Opera House, a very historic our main arts&culture center. I exhibited about 20 original paintings. Our exhibition was a big deal, a lot of important national figures were invited and attended, tv and news people, and also well-known artists. It was a good opportunity to exhibit my work to the older generation with a diverse group. The exhibition was also published in the newspapers a few days later so that felt like one of my biggest successes.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Galleriadimariam: I think the best way to reach people about my art is through social media, word of mouth, I sponsor my work a lot not only in my country but a lot more around the world, which has successfully gotten me art clients from abroad; so this is what made me start selling internationally as well.
Are there any upcoming shows or events or workshops that we should know about? We’re canceled due to the COVID-19 situation?
Galleriadimariam: So far I don’t have any events coming up, I’m strictly focusing on building myself more and my talent and promoting my work as much as I can to gather a wider audience and target. Maybe in the near future, I could start giving workshops to students of all ages.