The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society will sponsor an art exhibit by local artist Mahfuza Shammy Rahman to showcase her landscape paintings.
The exhibit begins Saturday, June 26, at 3 p.m. at Geordie’s Joint, located at 79-19 Jamaica Ave.
Rahman, 31, who also goes by MSR, was born in Bangladesh and came to the United States when she was 9 months old. Rahman and her family settled in Brooklyn for a few years before moving to Woodhaven when she was 12.
Growing up, Rahman said her household was violent and often made her feel oppressed. After struggling with her mental health for some time, she started painting.
“Painting was a way of creating a sanctuary for myself,” Rahman said. “After I started painting two years ago, I felt like I was finally fulfilled in a way I didn’t know could exist. I think painting saved my life. I hope that inspires other people to do the same.”
Rahman is part of a group of local artists in Woodhaven called the Woodhaven Art Circle, an offshoot of the WCHS. Each artist has been showcased in a Zoom series on local artists.
“During her showcase, [Rahman] mentioned that she would love to have an exhibit at Geordie’s,” said Edward Wendell, president of the WCHS. “We set up a meeting between [Rahman] and the pub’s owners and the plans came together quickly.”
Rahman had picked Geordie’s Joint for the art exhibit since she’s been a longtime customer.
“I like a nice dive bar where you can have a good conversation over a beer, and Geordie’s was that,” Rahman said. “I would go there a lot, and the more I went, the more I loved it there. It felt very safe and comfortable for me to be there.”
Restaurants and small businesses are hurting coming out of the pandemic, so Wendell thought this collaboration would be a great way to help.
“Anything we can do to get people in there is a good thing,” Wendell said. “It’s about encouraging people to start coming back out and doing whatever they can to support our local businesses who were there for us.”
One of the owners of Geordie’s Joint, Tricia Robinson, said she was happy to do this for Rahman and hopes to gain a few more regular customers.
“It’ll also give the business a little more exposure,” Robinson said. “It’ll bring people inside our bar, you could make a new customer or you could make people understand that it’s okay to walk in and be around people in the neighborhood.”
Rahman works on Broadway at night as an usher, freeing up her days to focus on artwork that comments on deep aspects of our society.
“I think about the lack of access to meaningful education, having to deplete your inner reserves to gain basic universal needs such as food and housing, internalized racism and sexism perpetuated further by women,” Rahman said. “The overwhelming grief I feel for those things is the backbone of my work.”
The artwork will be showcased through July 3 and is free and open to everyone. Rahman’s work can be seen on her website, MSRGalleries.com.