Bangladeshi artist Nasima Khanam Queenie has a vision for the future of humanity.
She wishes for us to progress forward into a life resembling our ancient, mystical past in the Garden of Eden; a peaceful, loving, machine-free state of being.
“I’m thinking, I imagine a world where people can sing, eat, lay down, no machines,” Queenie said.
She communicates her vision in a series of relief process prints, where she depicts relaxed pairs in love, enjoying undeveloped natural landscapes, resting among trees and making music.
Most of the pairs are male- female lovers, but there are some mother-and-child scenes and a few dedicated to the birth-giving power of woman.
Queenie, who has converted her family nickname into her last name, is in the United States for a family visit and to mount a solo exhibition of “Return to Eden.”
Although she resides in Bangladesh, she has strong U.S. ties.
Her work has been shown in the United States a few times, and she and her immediate family often travel to the United States to visit extended family, including her sister Annie Ferdous, who is helping her to prepare the exhibition, and other extended family members.
The prints are prepared on synthetic paperboard, sometimes by pencil-drawing the subject first but often by freehand needle etching.
They are then printed in sepia or green. Each board can produce about 20 prints. Queenie sometimes blots the color off the board in the middle of printing and produces a series of the same drawing in different colors.
Each print is on the light theme of happy love, expressed through dark colors and densely-scratched, intricately lined patterns. The rich visuals engage the eye and mind, drawing the viewer in to deep and positively charged concentration.
For Queenie, the Eden dream is aspirational, not figmentary.
She hopes humanity can progress toward happy lives where we bother neither the Earth nor each other. She thinks about the planet being a peaceful place where people can live with their freedoms, in love, where nothing about life is bad and all the people are happy.
“I’m sure my dream will not happen fully. But it can happen partially,” Queenie said.
In a brochure for a “Return to Eden” exhibition she held in Bangladesh at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka in December 2013, Queenie acknowledged that the strife in her own country is in contrast to her theme of happy peace.
“While living in a country where today every moment is bounded by conflict and confrontation, I feel guilty to exhibit such a dream yet I believe that certainly one day it will be realized,” she wrote.
The artist first encountered print making at Bangladesh’s Institute of Fine Arts, where she majored in Oriental Art and Print Making as a subsidiary subject.
She has worked in lithography, wood cut, etching and other print-making methods.
She credits a 1995 three-month class in Drawing for the Media at the School of Visual Arts in New York for giving her such strong drawing skills that she is able to etch many of her prints freehand.
In the past, Queenie had done a lot of work in acrylics and water colors.
After learning about the use of synthetic paperboard to create relief process prints while working in 2012 for the Kibria Print Fair at the Dhaka Art Center, she continued producing acrylics on canvas but found herself repeatedly sourcing more synthetic paperboard to make prints.
“Then I am thinking, why am I not doing these only?”
The prints have been priced at $100, $120 and $150, with the hope that they will find a place in American homes and won’t have to be carried back to Bangladesh.