Art can be a vessel.
In this case, a vessel for dialogue and change.
A local artist is using her skills to do just that and is also helping a non-profit serving children in underserved black and brown communities in southern Dallas.
Marian Mekhail has been painting and drawing since she was 13.
"I started out drawing faces, figures," she said.
Mekhail majored in exercise science at UT Arlington and eventually worked in an industry far different from her creative interests. Still, art was always on her mind.
“Even in class I was always drawing my classmates, doodling. It’s always been my passion," she said.
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Her experience as a woman of color opened her eyes to the type of art she's passionate really about -- art that celebrates minority communities, particularly women.
“I have found my passion has been showing the beauty in the black and brown community,” she said. “I saw so much racial divide even in the corporate world, and saw how a lot of treatment towards people of color was extremely unfair. It pushed me towards wanting to work for myself and tell the stories through my art.”
With every stroke of her paintbrush, she’s sending a message through many of her pieces.
“It is our responsibility to speak to the times,” she said.
Mekhail is African by heritage as an Egyptian. She's using her God-given talent to speak to others.
She described the meaning behind one piece, called "Jameela."
“She’s a strong black woman. She’s in a strong stance, she’s levitating higher and higher onto the canvas,” she said. "She is above all. she’s above any hate, any negativity, any pain.”
An arrow runs through the painting, pointing in an upward trajectory. On the arrow are words of encouragement: “There’s no one like you. Shine your light. Be bold.”
Mekhail hopes her art can serve as a conversation starter.
“It takes some very uncomfortable conversations force him to really see what others are going through," she said. "I think art is a great medium to be able to speak through that. A lot of times people are not auditory learners, they are visual learners. And I feel that through visual learning, you can see beauty in color."
Mekhail is a full-time artist and makes a living off of her art but she’s taking her mission a step further by donating half of everything she makes from her art to the Melville Family Foundation. The nonprofit focuses on economic and educational disparities in southern Dallas.
“Their mission is to erase those disparities through food security, academic excellence,” said Mekhail. “I think it’s important that we focus on local organizations in local communities that could really use our help."
You can support the cause now through June 19th on Mekhail’s website, www.marianmekhail.com.
While her art can be eye-opening, she says people need to be willing to look.
“I think it’s really important that we as a community have a desire to want to understand something that doesn’t necessarily always affect us. That’s part of being human,” she said. “That’s part of a sense of humanity.”
Besides her paintings and drawings, Mekhail also sells prints, tote bags, t-shirts and other items featuring her artwork.
You can also support the Melville Family Foundation any time by visiting www.melvillefamilyfoundation.com.