How Middle Eastern Art Inspired Me and the Modern World
by Anjali Patel
Painting pictures and creating trinkets and charms were customary activities I pursued earnestly throughout my childhood. Differentiating between various shades of blue in the 96 crayon Crayola pack, mixing red and white paint to produce pink, and making pop up cards filled with holiday designs were just some of the endeavors I dabbled in with greater energy and persistence than most seven year olds. Over time, this hunger to continuously create only grew into larger projects. I invested more time and money into art by purchasing art supplies such as ink pens and graphite pencils as well as spending hours brainstorming new designs and painting ideas.
In middle school I discovered Middle Eastern art and was immediately drawn to it. The art and architecture from the following region has probably had the most impact on my work to this day. The intricate patterns are beautifully constructed into lavish works of beauty. When I took inspiration and drew similar designs and patterns to Middle Eastern styled art, I genuinely enjoyed the process. Using my thin black ink pens to draw circle after circle, square after square, and paisley after paisley was a calming practice. Repeating these miniature doodles is similar to our everyday lives. Life is dictated by a routine.
Day after day, we follow the same schedule similar to how we re draw the same pattern. However, the end result or the final picture is still beautiful. Deciding to continue the design in another direction, changing the tiny rhombuses into swirls, and adding tints of color here and there represent the change of lifestyle due to the opportunities we took. These opportunities altered our schedules and our normal ways but it also showed us that change is good and can add more layers and depth to our character.
Later, I learned that there was a specific name for the type of art I was pursuing. It is called Zentangle. According to The Path Untangled, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas have taken this art form that has been alive for centuries and gave it a modern twist with a sense of purpose. Zentangle promotes two necessary aspects that will lead to an improved mental health: relaxation and meditation. In fact, “Coloring Books for Adults” have also become a trend as they are currently for sale in various arts and crafts and department stores. These coloring books contain black and white pictures of patterns and designs that people can color. Although the targeted audience is primarily adults, these coloring books can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Middle Eastern art has also influenced the fashion world. The paisley shape emerged in the following region and has made appearances on and been the focal point of clothing and accessories particularly in the United States. For example, a high end fashion line, Vera Bradley has designed and manufactured handbags and purses covered with paisley patterns in varying colors. In addition, loose patterned pants have also recently been popular amongst the teenage demographic. Many of these pants are embellished with paisleys and other intricate designs.
Middle Eastern and Islamic art has existed for what seems like forever. It can be dated back thousands of years. Regardless of the way our lives have changed in the digital age, this type of art has still found its way into the modern world where it inspires people in unique ways.