Zarifi Haider Marin Lives and Loves the World

 "I know that my work can help in highlighting the positive around us and make people feel better."

When Zarifi Haider Marin, 35, of Venezuela and Lebanon, was a baby, she sat in her walker and watched as her mother hung laundry. According to her mother, Marin doodled what was in front of her. This is, however, a very distant memory for Marin. She recalls her first encounter with art after the 2006 Lebanon War that was estimated to have killed over 1400 people. The conflict lasted from July 12th to September 8, 2006 and proved to be an extremely trying time, leaving nearly 1 million people displaced and without homes. It was that immediate need for escape that brought Marin back to herself. Like many artists, Marin wears her heart on her sleeve. Her work is a representation of her highs, lows and, most certainly, her colorful imagination. She builds characters from every walk of life, providing everyone a little something to relate to.

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Nina Simone said, “It’s an artist duty to reflect the times in which we live.” How do you feel you and your work represents the time of our world today?

My work represents my reaction to whatever is happening around me. It reflects my day to day life as well as my feelings and views on what is happening to humanity nowadays. Sometimes my work is full of sadness and blame. Other times, it is full of positivity and a strong will to restore mine and others faith in humanity.     

(Above) I really like the imagery of this drawing. What stands out to me are the colors and the idea that she is crying inside of a fish tank. What does it all mean? Why did you create it? How do you hope people will interpret it?

This drawing is an auto-portrait, a psychotherapy exercise and an existential reminder. I was very sad when I drew it. I created it to let everything out and, at the same time, to turn what was bothering me into something beautiful. It’s also an existential reminder because it illustrates my own reflection on sadness and vulnerability. It reminds me that I owe everything I am to my emotions and that, without them, I would not even be able to draw.

The meaning and symbolism are difficult to explain but, to put it simply: the girl is unable to move or say anything to change things around her; she cries silently thinking that no one notices.  Her tears fill a fish tank that becomes the house of lovely fish and plants. One of the fish looks befuddle because it doesn’t understand her frustration. To him, she has done a lot.   

Tell me about your work and collaboration with @LiveLovetheWorld_.

@LiveLovetheWorld_ is a collaboration with @liveloveBeirut, with a mission to highlight positivity in Lebanon and the world.  Since we share similar values and aims, we created @LiveLovetheWorld_ to join forces in sharing and celebrating positivity, cultures and humans of the world.

As an artist, what do you want people to feel when they look at your work? Why?

I want them to feel happy, motivated and inspired. The world needs more of that!

What aspects of our world today do you wish to change and/or influence through your work? Why?

I wish I could change a lot of things. Today the world is so full of injustice that one can’t help feeling disappointed and frustrated. I know I can’t change that. But I also know that my work can help in highlighting the positive around us and make people feel better and/or take some action and make things better.     

How do you overcome the block of inspirational flow? Many writers call this period “Writer’s Block.”

I don’t have a clear strategy for that. I definitely go through periods of lack of inspiration but, most of the time, I simply take a break, do something different, and go back and try to keep working afterwards.

What is the hardest thing about following your dream?

Fear and financial instability. 

Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you doing to reach your goal?

I would like to move into academics, collaborate in architecture/urban design projects that have a positive impact on a large number of people (and not just on an elite minority), have my own art shop, as well as to illustrate children books in different languages (not just Arabic as I’ve done so far).

The first step towards reaching my goal is completing my Masters degree in Urban Design, which I plan to do by the end of this year.

Who/What exposed you to creating art?

A good friend encouraged me and I started to participate in an online weekly exercise/community called: Illustration Friday (IF). The consistent inspiration, encouragement and practice I got from participating in the IF exercises kept me going.

Other than canvas art, what else do you create?

Digital art, illustrated children books, murals and small stop motion animations

A lot of your work is fun with many of the characters happy. But there are some, I noticed, that are a little bit darker. Like, for example, this one (below). It’s very deep! What did you experience to probe you to create it?

Most of my characters are happy because I want my work to make people happy.

Many of my drawings illustrate my thoughts on life and humanity. Sometimes these thoughts are not very positive. The mentioned image, for example, reflects how life, many times, is not fair…it illustrates a Venezuelan proverb on the subject, which says that, while some people are born under a lucky star, others are born seeing stars (or to suffer and struggle).

What are some misconceptions that you confront with your culture that you attempt to eliminate using your art?

The misconception that religion is the same as spiritualism. The misconception created by materialism and consumerism. The image people have of women and beauty... But I think these misconceptions are confronted everywhere, not just in my country. 

Bianca SalvantComment