Born and raised in The South by two Persian parents, Sheyda Mehrara has always felt a little bit of an outsider. She just didn’t recognize and leverage it as a superpower until recently. Taking ownership and learning to fall in love with the very parts that she once felt shame around have led her to pick up a paintbrush.
Sheyda is now a mixed media painter living in Atlanta, GA. Largely self-taught, as an art career was not supported as a first generation immigrant child, she has utilized her travels, her cinephilia, her heritage and more to inform her work.
"'What are these emotions & why do I feel it so intensely?' I find myself asking all too often. Before the emotions would bubble up, suffocate me, bind me, cast a spell for a few days. What I didn’t realize is that each was a mirror in gaining a better understanding of my deepest desires &, equally important but not mutually exclusive, my latent triggers.
For so long, I didn't know what to do with the rush...to the flood of emotions I felt so often. I marked it as a curse because the burden felt so strong. These paintings allow me to face those feelings & confront them. Instead of punishing myself for those sentiments, the brushstrokes allow me to turn it into a positive self-dialogue. It's all in effort to learn who I am and what I stand for & in turn help others navigate the process of healing."
Q: WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK? / WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?
A: Movies, art coffee table books, interior designers, travel, my persian heritage, my adoration of French culture & history, long walks.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE COLORS TO WORK WITH?
A: Rich earth tones, but don’t just think rich greens & blues & neutrals. I light up getting to add pops of red, pink, & yellow to pieces. I enjoy the surprise & delight. Just like when those colors find you in nature.
Q: WHAT FEELINGS OR EMOTIONS DO YOU HOPE TO EVOKE FROM OTHERS WITH YOUR WORK?
A: Over the last few years, I have experienced such deep healing through the discipline of art. My art calls for others to use it as a mirror & allow the play between colors & markings to bring forth an emotion they can sit with, listen to.
Q: WHAT DOES YOUR DAY TO DAY LOOK LIKE WITH TWO FULL TIME JOBS?
A: I would be lying to say it was disciplined. Though I am trying. There are some days where I walk past my in-home studio & don’t have the energy to touch a paintbrush. Yet, I give myself grace. Folks often ask if I paint in the evenings to unwind from work, but what I have to explain is that art as cathartic as it can be, is work. You are breaking down your understanding of yourself & the world around you.
When I paint & I can get into flow, I’ll paint for hours without even looking at the clock. The release at the end of those sessions are always worth getting back into the studio for.
The most important thing is to stay curious & allow that curiosity to lead you back into the studio.