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Work Samples

Installation View of "Seeing through Masks" in Front of Wall of "Blends" paintings

Hanging resin installation in front of wall of colorful paintings by Farida Hughes
Installation image from "Between the Stripes, Under the Stars", Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, 2022

Blends installation, Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, 2022

Wall installation of nine paintings with colorful compositions on white backgrounds by Farida Hughes
Wall of nine "Blends" paintings installed at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN in the exhibition "Between the Stripes, Under the Stars", 2022

Blend 32, Side View

Side view showing glass-like surface of a painting by Farida Hughes
Side view of "Blend 31" showing the layering and dimension of color with light as it plays off of the surface.

Edges of the Day, Dawn and Dusk

resin art tall paintings by Farida Hughes
Edges of the Day, Dawn and Dusk, Oil, ink and resin on custom dibond panel, diptych, 72 x 22", 2021

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About Farida

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Farida Hughes's picture
Farida Hughes is an abstract painter/visual artist whose work is distinguished by vibrant color and translucent layering of shapes. Based in Baltimore, Maryland since 2018, her formal explorations and material investigations are first rooted in the experience, story-telling, and situational observation of the intersection of groups and communities, with empathy toward and interest in marginalized people. She strives for a message of community, optimism and an embrace of human storytelling in her... more

Blends, 2019–present

“Hughes’s paintings are ravishing merely as color-blending exercises, but their layered depths have poignant human significance.” – Mark Jenkins in the Washington Post, exhibition review July 23, 2021.

The Blends paintings celebrate diversity in humanity through the sensitive appreciation of muliplicities in identity. This project is ongoing, with 45 paintings completed to date. The series began as a way to explore the artist's own multi-culturalism as a uniquely blended individual, along with the intention to collect and portray narratives from friends and acquaintances. An abstract endgame begins with content as the paintings develop from solicited lists and stories of real peoples’ cultural and ethnic backgrounds and experiences. The blended histories of people allow consideration of interesting identity issues that the abstract “portraits” explore through formal investigation: colors are distinct, but layered together they become new forms, and the paintings develop in joining these parts into harmony. In this way, the pieces are constructed composite “portraits” comprised of colors and shapes that combine visually to create a new and complex identity. Paintings are exhibited with the corresponding stories. (In some cases the stories presented here may show only in part due to the paragraph allotted space.)

  • Installation of nine "Blends" paintings

    Wall installation of nine paintings with colorful compositions on white backgrounds by Farida Hughes
    Each of my "Blends" paintings display a composite portrait of the layers of an individual’s cultural and ethnic background, based on stories that I solicit and collect from friends and acquaintances. I respond to the anecdotes collected as I create each of the abstract paintings. This series began as a way to unwrap my own multicultural (South-Asian Indian and German-American) background, and subsequently grew to celebrate the unique blended-ness of each person contributing a story, and the effects of historical moments that the narratives inevitably present.
  • Blend 32

    Bright green and vivid pink abstract blend painting by farida hughes
    Oil, resin, ink on wood 20” x 20”, 2021 | "So my blend is on my dad’s side, Syrian/Lebanese, my mom Scottish, Irish and English... Me I am half of each! I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, lived in Iraq, then evacuated from the 6 day war from Lebanon, took a huge ship that brought us to America. Then back to live in Kuwait. Then moved back to Paris. Then here to NY to study art. Then here to DC…"
  • Blend 32

    Side view showing glass-like surface of a painting by Farida Hughes
    Side view detail, "Blend 32", 20 x 20", 2021
  • Blend 45

    yellow and green blend painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, acrylic, ink on wood 20” x 20”, 2021 | "I am Sičangu Lakota through my mother and German and Welsh American through my father. There may be some mystery blood in there as well that remains unknown because of my mom’s adoption. My mother was born on the reservation but adopted out to white missionaries at the age of 18 months. This is how she ended up being raised in Wisconsin and how [she] met my dad whose family also had settled in Wisconsin. I went to Haskell Indian Nations University, a tribal college in Lawrence, KS. This is where I met my husband.
  • Blend 42

    blend painting abstract portrait of colors and shapes by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, ink on wood 20” x 20”, 2021 | "My parents and grandparents were all born in the Transylvania region of Romania. Most of the grandparents’ relatives and their parents were killed in the Holocaust. All of my grandparents survived the Holocaust with 3 of them in concentration camps and one on the cleaning crew (for lack of a better description) of the German army. My grandparents knew each other before the war and after their relationships formed and they got married. My parents knew each other as young children. My father then immigrated to the US with his parents in 1961.
  • Blend 43

    abstract portrait painting of colors and shapes by farida hughes
    Oil, resin on wood 20” x 20”, 2021 | "I think for Black Americans this question can often be a bit difficult to answer unless they’ve done DNA tests, as so much of our ancestral history has been systematically erased. I can offer that I have deep ancestral histories in Los Angeles and Baltimore."
  • Blend 26

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, mixed media, and resin on wood, 20 x 20″, 2019 | "I recently did my 23andMe ancestry and a few things were a surprise – like there is zero Irish (I’d been told about my supposed Irish-ness forever) and there is 8% SubSaharan (east) African (which both of my parents deny...).
  • Blend 35

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, mixed media, resin on wood, 20 x 20", 2020 | "Both [my parents] might be considered children of the Second World War. My father was born and grew up in Minamata...in s. Japan. (That town is...known internationally for a serious mercury poisoning...that critically affected the local fishing community.) My mother grew up ...in s. Denmark, on an island in the Baltic near the German border. Living 50 miles across the bay from Nagasaki, my father witnessed the mushroom cloud left by the atomic bomb dropped there. My mother’s father was German.
  • Blend 36

    mixed media painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, mixed media, resin on wood, 20 x 20", 2020 | "Both [my wife] and I are Chinese. She was born in Shanghai and moved to the US when she was nine. I was born in Michigan. Although fully Chinese, I’m considered an “ABC” (American Born Chinese) by the Chinese community and, to them, pretty much an American. We live in an area where there are a decent number of Asians, but we’re still different from the majority. Teaching ethnicity to the kids has been a bit of a balancing act.
  • Detail, Blend 45

    colorful abstract painting showing details of layers
    Detail of Blend 45, oil and resin on wood, 2021

Seeing Through Masks

The ceiling installation Seeing Through Masks was exhibited at the University of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota in the group show  “Between the Stripes, Under the Stars”, November–December 2022. The installation is composed of 30 hanging mask-like forms made of resin, paint, and found objects. The forms are positioned to be at, above, and below eye-level, and are configured in a circular pattern strung from a metal rack that is suspended from the ceiling. There are 3 entry points within the circular configuration, and visitors are able to walk inside the piece and participate in a “group” experience of inclusion, avoidance, covering, allowing, and many other actions or descriptions that it conjures up. Of the St. Paul installation and its invitation to the viewer to duck under and experience it from inside, poet and artist Hawona Sullivan Janzen said it is “…such a gorgeous metaphor of what it means to be a new person in a community and a culture.” These are experiences I aim to explore and replicate with a goal of eliciting introspection and empathy.

Luminis

In this series I am building illumination through the use of material form, responding to observations of glowing of light from different worldy and environmental sources. I utilize collected imagery and memory of events to create compositions that develop a real sense of light through the use of paint. Some of these images, however abstracted, look at the gathering of people assembled in candlelight vigils, holding flames for healing, memorializing, and celebrating life. As an artist I most often work in isolation, but am affected by contemporary events and my place within them. Themes I regularly work with include the movement of peoples, immigration, and migration; the assembling of groups for protest, vigil, performance, and demonstration, corresponding to major events that move us to action; and environmental movements and changes that encourage us to think about our human impact. I am working to find a connection to others through the rendering of light in these compositions.
It is a slow process to make these works, layering color on top of color, anticipating the movement of the paint under my hand, balancing control and chaos, allowing discoveries as the shapes overlap and come into being. I shut the studio door each night to let the shapes cure and at every next session the paintings reveal to me a confrontation of new choices. Painting as an activity is both beautiful and hard, but gives connection of the artist to everything in the world at large. 

Kindred Systems

These works are composed with the notion that each individual is their own unique blend, but all are part of, and reliant upon, a larger system. All works in this project are made with oil paint and resin on panel with additional mixed media.

Color, Light, and Experience

The paintings in this grouping are informed by the expansive experience of a place as one is engaged with the marking of time through the witness of subtle changes in light, shape, and color. Broadening on processes in other portfolios, this work explores the limits of all four edges of the painting, expanding the fields of vision as opposed to drawing inward toward a collection of bodies. This imagery is influenced by interactions with nature, creating paintings with no horizon lines, and the only spatial orientation being the movement within the composition and the interplay between forms and forces. These are painted on a flat surface with a liquid medium, and so the painting is an immersive act where the artist disrupts the plane with an assortment of thoughts and then begins to coax out references by relying on memory of color, shape, and light.

Terrain

Typical of this artist's work in watercolor, but unique in her ouevre for scale and execution, the painting All Terrain took 3 years to complete. The 48 x 96" watercolor on canvas painting began on the ground on the bank of the Wisconsin River in 2016, using river water to dilute the colors, and the undulations of the sand underneath the canvas to pool and direct the color. It was continued in the studio in Minneapolis and Baltimore and completed in 2019. The piece was made to be oriented in any direction. The painting portrays an aerial view of an invented world but based on familiar land and water elements, with colors and imagery suggesting a movement of people through various terrains. In keeping with the artist's  ongoing interest in human relationships, collective movement, and migration, the piece alludes to a movement of people across a varying landscape.
Also in this project are works on paper that were made in partnership with the landscape. The Below the Surface set of works began with direct rubbings using volcanic rock on lave fields, the results being drawings of perforations that let light pass through illuminating the directional flow of molten lava. This body of work is in development for a public project to be held in 2023 in collaboration with a new musical composition written by a local percussionist in response to one of the drawings.

Blends, 2015–2019

My Blends painting project began as a way to explore my multi-culturalism as a uniquely blended individual, along with the intention to collect and portray narratives from friends and acquaintances. Abstraction begins with content as the paintings develop from solicited lists and stories of real peoples’ cultural and ethnic backgrounds and experiences. The blended-ness of people creates interesting identity issues that the abstract “portraits” explore through formal investigation: colors are distinct, but layered together they become new forms, and the paintings develop as I join these parts into harmony. I explore edges where intentions slip and overlap, forming areas of rejection or incorporation, all with shimmering, saturated color and a glass-like surface that leans toward reflection. In this way, I am constructing composite “portraits” made up of colors and shapes that combine visually to create a new and complex identity. As the project progresses and I collect more stories I am seeing connection to a vast modern world history unfolding across a collection of intimate personal anecdotes. I acknowledge the voice of each individual story donor by presenting the story with the painting, only edited for grammatical consistency.

Identity in our current state of things is becoming more complex, and so I believe it is increasingly urgent to consider. To me, identity is not one- or two-dimensional, but multi-layered. Our edges are not as defined as they were even decades ago. The need to allow for openness and empathy in our relationships with others is clear when we witness closed boundaries as a root of adversity. Using my abstract visual language I aim to celebrate and value human difference, in the hope that the more we appreciate and see each other’s uniqueness, the more effectively we can relate with one another to build a better world.

The paintings in the Blends series are exhibited with the corresponding stories. (In some cases the stories presented here may show only in part due to the paragraph allotted space.)

  • Blend 23

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on panel, 20 x 20", 2019 | "I'm half-Mexican and half-Irish… I lived in Mexico as a kid and moved [to the US] for first grade. I was back in Mexico [recently] and I ran into a woman who had not seen me since I was five years old. She watched me speaking with [my daughter and wife] in English, and blinked at me in amazement, saying, "the last time I saw you, you didn't even know *how* to speak English." It was a powerful reminder of how my life changed moving here.
  • Blend 10

    resin art painting be Farida Hughes
    Resin, oil, graphite on panel, 20 x 20", 2017 | "So I'm half Ashkenazi Jew half U.K. My father's family immigrated from ghettos in Poland and the Ukraine. There is one great great grandparent we don't know where she came from.  Breast cancer runs higher in Ashkenazi Jews, so I had some extra genetic testing done.
  • Blend 6

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on panel, 20 x 20", 2017 | "I was born in Estonia and am a WW II refugee. My first husband and the father of my two kids, [is] half French/Luxembourg."
  • Blend 5

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on panel, 20 x 20", 2019 | Coming from a multi-cultural, dual-religion household, where differences were often a point of contention, my latent concerns of identity and community have increasingly become the content of my artwork. As an American daughter of first generation Indian/German descent, there is a personal awareness of being different in all groups; I developed strategies of blending in, which affected my deep interest in personal identity vs. community growth, energy and bonding, group formation, group movement, and human social behavior.
  • Blend 7

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on panel, 20 x20", 2017 | "Him - Native American…“Sovin” speaker - language identity. NC tribe is Saponi maybe Cherokee. Russian/Romanian/European nobles, founder of Troy including Ed. Longshanks “Brave Heart.” [B]lood children all of this + French…He has been nomadic (parents joined army). House of Israel - both religious and cultural. Symbolism [is] part of who we are."
  • Blend 27

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on panel, 20 x 20", 2019 – "I have a really mixxxed up background: on my father's side, I am a descendant of American slaves from Africa. On my mother's side, I am descendant of immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My paternal heritage knowledge stops in South Carolina. My maternal side knowledge is not much better, my mom is not sure if they are Polish, Russian, Czech, Slovakian or some mixture of all of that. Her mother always told her she was American and not to worry about it.
  • Blend 24

    Abstract painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, mixed media, and resin on board, 20 x 20″, 2019 | "I am Pakistani. I was born in Nigeria and lived there till age 12 when I moved to the United States. My Pakistani heritage includes a great great great grandfather who was Jewish and moved to India from Iran. However he was originally Syrian. He married a Mughal woman, but could not have children so he took a second wife, and my family descends from her. One of my great grandparents married a Parsi woman which was frowned upon. Another great great grandparent was a Hindu with a wife and kids who converted to Islam.
  • Blend 30

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on panel, 20 x 20", 2019 | "My kids are about one third early colonial American from both sides (with claims to the Mayflower & the DAR, and one now-controversial ancestor who was lauded a hero in her day, having led a bloody revolt against & escape from her Native American captors).
  • Blend 3

    resin art painting by Farida Hughes
    Oil, resin, graphite on wood, 20 x 20" 2017 | "I’m 97% Irish. 3% Norwegian. The Norwegians looked down on the Irish in my grandmother’s town in North Dakota. Even my mom refused to frame a photo of the pub her ancestors ran because it was still a source of shame. My kids are me + (my husband) who is a mish-mash-mutt of German, French, English, Scottish."
  • Blends installation, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

    installation view of blends square paintings at MIAD
    From “I Contain Multitudes”, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, 2019, installation view of “Blends” paintings by Farida Hughes. Image courtesy of MIAD.

Couples

Considering concepts of identity in our current state of things, I have been exploring compositions in diptych format using abstract head-like forms paired as a couple but with gazes that do not include the other. The paintings are loosely informed by paintings of couples by David Hockney, which show a pair of individuals in a space together, but not necessarily including the other in their portrait. This type of image, to me, reflects on our current moment of isolation and inter-dependency. Are we as humans becoming more isolated, even as we become more intertwined?

"Farida Hughes’ series of resin and oil paintings on wood panels feature eye-appealing blobs of overlapping colors — bright and fruity blues, yellows, reds and greens. From a distance, you might think the paintings are standard examples of corporate art, color and polish just for the sake of color and polish. Up close, however, the fluid shapes reveal themselves to be human head-like forms. She means these works to be “portraits” of a sort, though without eyes, ears and noses. Instead, they’re all emotion, thought, introspection. Layers and layers of those things. They’re lively, but also difficult." - Ray Mark Rinaldi, Special to The Denver Post, 
Nov 23, 2019, on "Layers of Existence" at Walker Fine Art

Common Threads

We often find ourselves faced with addressing the differences between people, via identity, politics, economic stature, family origin, and more. Considering these topics, real entwined thread, or pulled lengths of wool, in the Common Threads paintings are a metaphor for commonly shared experiences bridging these different identity issues. Shared experiences bind people and their histories together in intimately interesting ways. I am working to use these links and metaphoric threads as a means to find common ground and harmony. 

Farida's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.