Mysha Islam is a multi-tasker - a full-time mother of three, an elementary school teacher, and a passionate photographer. As a second-generation immigrant currently settled in Australia, her successful journey as a female artist is inspiring for many, especially in a context where women in Bangladesh are yet to shatter glass ceilings, when it comes to pursuing their passion for anything beyond mainstream realms.
When the government of Australia announced a strict lockdown on 24 March last year, Mysha Islam began to document her days at home and collated the photographs into a series called, "Our Lockdown Days."
It was recently featured in the Australian Muslim Artists (AMA 2021), an annual shortlisted exhibition, held in collaboration with La Trobe University that provides a platform for upcoming and established artists to exhibit their works.
This year, the exhibition featured 17 artworks by contemporary artists from different parts of Australia.
Mysha's works have been featured in international publications and exhibitions. When asked about her journey into the world of photography, Mysha had an endearing story to tell.
"It all started with a small camera from my father. In my pursuit of photography, the camera was the least important element. So let not your simple digital camera discourage you in any way from expressing yourself, because at the end of the day it is the idea that matters. In 2010, one of my photographs was selected for the International Inter-University Photography Exhibition at the Shilpakala Academy," she told The Business Standard.
"The same year I was awarded an Honorable Mention at the SPS National photography contest. Later on, my work was featured in National Geographic Your Shot, MIT Women's League in Massachusetts, USA and recently shortlisted among Australian Muslim Artists 2021 at the Islamic Museum of Australia."
To Mysha, conceptual photography entails expressing herself in a single photo. She takes inspiration from minimal objects, vibrant colours, and textures from nature. She perceives the world through a childlike mind to bring out the creativity in everyday objects, which is often overlooked by an average adult.
Mysha's minimalist approach to photography involves simplicity to convey a deeper message about life, which is an effective way to communicate with a greater audience.
So how does she juggle her multiple roles as a full-time mother and teacher, and still manage to extract time for her passion for photography? Planning and organising tasks ahead of time is a strategy she uses to strike a balance between career, parenting, and passion.
"As my kids are toddlers, I engage them in my photography and find new ways of learning. In my photo series, 'Eating My Alphabets', I took the initiative to teach my kids how to eat fruits and vegetables in a fun and creative way while learning," Mysha explained with confidence.
"I have photographed the creative alphabet plating, made exclusively out of fruits and vegetables, which I offer my son on a regular basis. Also in '10 little fingers and ten little toes' we created imaginary photo stories using everyday household objects. My recent project, 'Our Lockdown Days' also reflects simple precious moments with my loved ones. I discovered that when you are passionate about something, you learn to manage your time."
Other than being a seasoned photographer, Mysha is also a glass-painter. Her love affair with glass-painting started a decade ago.
Citing her family as the biggest inspiration and support system for pursuing her passion, Mysha believes in disseminating her love for art through her profession, which is teaching. Her artwork has inspired many of her students.