Folk Art, Music, Theater, Visual
Merjem Garic -- Artist Statement
To Merjem Garic, there is no separation between music, painting and her Muslim faith. “My religious songs inspire me to do calligraphy. They are about God. The calligraphy is also about God and his prophets.” She uses acrylic paints to create an abstract background, and then paints stylized Arabic calligraphy on top. Garic continues, “We listen to religious music and people reciting the Koran all the time in our house. This inspires me to paint a name of God, or an important religious concept, or a quote.”
Garic experiences a form of synesthesia, she automatically sees colors when she hears music. Psychologists believe about 4% of the population has synesthesia. “When I hear music, I see colors, especially when I listen to the religious Islamic songs. I paint the colors I hear. If the song reminds me of water, I will use the cool colors, blues and greens. Water connects us to God. We have to clean ourselves before we pray. We have 99 names for God, and some of those names relate to water and preparing to pray.” Garic is also a singer, and leads her Bosnian community’s gatherings with religious songs.
Garic started painting when she was young. “I have two older brothers who have been painting since they were kids. I watched them all the time, and then tried it myself. Some people learn through a class, but my family supported me to teach myself. I started when I was about 14 years old. Recently other Erie Muslim artists have inspired me and now I’m painting all the time.”
Garic’s paintings help her focus on her religion. “The paintings help me be a better person. I talk to God through my paintings.” The Kufic style is the oldest form of calligraphy, and was used in the first writing of the Koran. “It is very clean and bold. It shows that we have faith in God’s mercy.” Kufic style is mostly simple so one is not distracted because the ideas are profound.
People have found her work through social media and Garic has clients not just in Erie, but other parts of the U.S. She wants her art to teach non-Muslims about her faith. “I want people to know how our God is full of mercy. You can only see love when you read the Koran. My paintings are an expression of love, mercy and hope. Islam is very clean, very peaceful, and very deep. I try to show that in my paintings.”
Artist - Traditional Singer and Painter
Merjem Garic is a singer, calligraphy artist, and painter. She sings traditional Bosnian songs, paints in abstract in acrylic, and produces Kufic calligraphy. She has collaborated with other artists in Erie to curate and produce window displays of traditional clothing and wares, as part of a series with Preservation Erie and Erie Art Museum. She was featured in an article in Go Erie. You can view and purchase her calligraphic work on her Instagram: @the.keva.calligraphy.
Garic graduated from Karadjoz Begova Madrassa (Islamic High School) in the historic Bosnian city of Mostar and attended the Islamic University in Sarajevo. She is fluent in English and Bosnian and has a written knowledge of Arabic.
Graduated from Karadjoz Begova Madrassa (Islamic High School) in Mostar, Bosnia
Went to Islamic University in Sarajevo, Bosnia, studies in theater and elementary music education
Areas of Expertise