The Confessions Questionnaire

Your name/nickname.

Tazeen, in Farsi, means to adorn and embellish. A fun fact is that this was not the name I was given at birth but I was renamed at the age of 10, as my mom became superstitious that I would grow up stubborn and headstrong if my name was not changed.

Current mood in one word.


What is your favourite dish?

Paya – The main ingredients of this dish are the trotters or hooves of a cow or goat, cooked in special spices to a thick, soup-like form and eaten with naan dipped into it. A traditional South Asian delicacy.

Tea or coffee?

TEA – Strong brew with cardamon.

Favourite place you’ve travelled to and why?

Istanbul, Turkey. I love the preservation of its history and contemporary culture.

Favourite movie?

Very tough to name one, most are non – Hollywood. Currently, Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life) a Pakistani drama film directed by Sarmad Khoosat.

Favourite book or poem and why?

Too many to list! A book that comes to mind right now is ‘My Mother Laughs’ by Chantal Akerman

Your Life Motto or favourite quote?

“Sometimes you don’t survive whole, you just survive in part. But the grandeur of life is that attempt, it’s not about the solution. It is about being as fearless as one can, behaving as beautifully as one can, under completely impossible circumstances.” Toni Morrison

What or who inspires you the most in life?

Arundhati Roy is an Indian author and human rights activist.

Mohammad Jibran Nasir, a Pakistani civil rights activist, and lawyer.

Salima Hashmi, a Pakistani painter, artist, writer, activist and my former professor.

Three unique things about where you live?

The beautiful walking trail right next to our house; people I love live within 2 km and the abundance of natural light in every room.

A piece of advice you’d give to your younger self.

Be confident and brave, your heart and mind is in the right, trust yourself.

How do you escape a creative block?

Spend an entire day visiting multiple contemporary art galleries.

Do you have a favourite colour?

Teal and Dark Magenta.

Favourite art tool?

Qalam – a fine, handmade brush using chipmunk hair, used for the fine detailing in Miniature Painting.

Is your studio messy or tidy?

Tidy – an organized chaos.

Why did you become an artist?

To find my voice and the means to express it.

What is the most challenging or exciting thing about being an artist?

Most challenging is to share my emotional vulnerability and the most exciting part is when your art inspires others.

Craziest artistic experiment you've tried.

Placing multiple paper cutouts of red-coloured cockroaches at different locations in Pearson International Airport, some areas are not even accessible to the general public.

Funniest criticism you’ve received.

“I love your work, but it’s the cockroach!”

Describe your style in three words.

If you meant style in clothing/appearance: Elegant, vintage, comfortable.

Most memorable artistic achievement.

Invitation to showcase my work at  Pearson International Airport, Toronto.

Dream collaboration (with someone dead or alive)

To collaborate with artist Shirin Neshat. I have admired her work for ages.

If you could exhibit anywhere, where would it be?

Dia Beacon, New York.



Raised in a family where secular thinking and spiritual practices were always accessible, my mother’s love, appreciation and performances of South Asian traditional poetry, ghazals and mystical Sufi music seeped into my soul. I mostly listen to Urdu ghazals, short poems with rhyming couplets often expressing love’s beauty despite the pain of loss and separation.

Urdu poetry has always been a language of the heart, and when it meets the right musical notes and a soulful voice, the outcome is sheer magic.

The other music genre I listen to, especially when creating text drawings, is qawwali, a Sufi devotional style marked by rhythmic improvisatory repetition of a short phrase. They transport me to solitude, where my only companions are the rhythms of the qawwali, the words of its spiritual poetry and my breathing.