My family has always been the creative type. My great grandfather, however, was the first one in the family to make a career out of using his hands to craft things. He was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and started his craft business selling small boats and rickshaws made of clay by the side of the road. It was difficult, but he persevered through countless moments of doubt and hesitation. Eventually, he opened a shop in Dhaka, which remains in our family to this day. There, he started working with more interesting materials, such as cloth, plastic, metal, and mirrors. He passed this love of art on to my grandfather, and later my mother and aunts and uncles. This boat, a common theme for art in Bangladesh, was handcrafted in that very shop. Most, if not all the art in this shop is handcrafted, either made in our family or supplied by local artists. Art is a very important tradition in our family. My aunt has intricate drawings of her engagement and wedding days that she did herself. My cousin is starting a career as a web designer. I have sketchbooks dating back to elementary school. Art is how we express ourselves when there are no words to explain how we feel. It helps hold our family together through times of hardship. I keep this boat on my desk as a symbol of the creativity of my family, and as a reminder to keep my life colorful and fun, because if there’s one thing my family has taught me, it’s how to take something ugly, and turn into something of inexplicable beauty.
– Tashmia Kabir