Abdul Sallah is telling his spiritual story through every medium he can find. Whether it be through organic shapes at the tip of a pencil, written harmonies of words or therapeutic podcasts, Sallah stretches to intimate boundaries that have yet to be uncovered.
A University of Maryland senior studio art major, Sallah’s words were laced with a genuine authenticity, creating a comfortable environment.
“I’m not very good at expressing myself verbally,” Sallah said. But with a pen in his hand, you can understand exactly what he’s going through.
You can see on his social media every emotion is painted through details of images pressed into his mind. But even beyond the pages, Sallah challenged himself to express verbally what other people wanted to hear. On Perspective’s Podcast, Sallah and his friend Miguel Peji share ideas that no one really talks about to begin with.
The podcast came about after Peji called Sallah looking to connect. Sallah emphasizes the importance of needing support in things such as understanding your emotions. His art highlights remarkable chapters in his life, and smaller memories as well. These all define him as an artist and as a human.
As you scroll through his art portfolio on his Instagram (@abdul_j_sallah), there are elements of raw material in details, in pen movements and even larger ideas like the themes. Sallah moves his pen organically, as an extension of himself. Nothing is precise, but everything is real. Emotions are not bound to the harsh lines of ink.
His pieces feature an abundance of words that almost say less than the art as a whole does. But, these words reveal so much about Sallah’s inner dialogue. His portfolio is an open diary, and there are no edits to contain these ideas or refine them.
What’s the point of expressing your ideas if they’re not refined? Understanding emotions as they present themselves to us privately is what being human is about. Sallah is helping us understand just that.
Two of Sallah’s close friends, Jairus Carino, a student in the computer science certificate program at Montgomery College, and Kevin Shirvani, a junior majoring in economics at this university, watched him grow and change over time. His artistic development, as described by his friends, ultimately seemed inspiring.
“I’ve known Abdul since I was like 12 years old,” Carino shared. “I remember him sketching a whole lot in high school, especially in our math class. That’s what he would always do. That was just a form of not distraction, but expression.”
Carino shared how art was a shared interest, and their friendship was stronger due to their unique ability to be authentic. Shirvani said Sallah’s ability to portray his art compels the audience.
“I admire that he tells his story. All types of art … some poetry, drawing, sketching, I mean, the whole nine yards, I really admire that,” he said.
Sallah really does it all and his work is pretty expansive. It’s rare to see an artist who is able to effectively share their message through multiple mediums, whether that’s paint, pen, words or voice. Sallah’s art depicts emotion in a comforting way — a way that is universal to his viewers. It’s effortlessly human.
“You know, at the end of the day, we are all humans, we all go through some good things, bad things and ups and downs and I admire that his art is very unique in the sense that it’s relatable,” Shirvani said.
Sallah’s message will give you a sense of comfort and peace. Let his art guide you through a sea of emotions as you explore the most turbulent part of your life.