Diseño 1


Many of you may have discovered me through Instagram, but understanding the complexities in my creative works can be challenging. This blog offers an opportunity to connect and reveal the intricate details behind my creations.

I’m thrilled to debut ‘Shahada,’ the opening episode in the ’11:11 Beautiful Patience’ series digitally! This exciting moment emerges from my artistic journey at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design.

In sequence from left to right, the videos ‘Anguish,’ ‘Roots,’ and ‘Truth’ are from Saenz’s five-part video series titled ’11:11 Beautiful Patience,’ created during and for Saenz’s residency at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design.

’11:11 Beautiful Patience’ isn’t just a title; it embodies my life’s essence and the profound experiences shaping it. In this blog post, we’ll delve into my creative process for this video and unveil its symbolic meanings.

This digital experience invites profound connection, transcending the limits of the screen. I encourage you to set a personal intention before watching: explore its meaning, identify your emotions while viewing, and rewatch the video after reading the blog to align your interpretation with its original message.

Ready? Let’s watch it together!

“SHAHADA” – Part of the 11:11 Beautiful Patience Series (2023)

What are your thoughts? How did it resonate with you emotionally? Did the music and visuals guide your emotions? Now that you’ve viewed it, let’s delve into how the concept for this video emerged during my residency at the museum.

Feel to Heal

Actively seeking inspiration for my theme, I explored numerous sources. Although one particular piece of art on the wall captured my attention, the challenge was the lack of available information to base my entire work on it.

However, what truly ignited my creative spark were the lesser-known narratives about Doris Duke and the devoted individuals laboring within the museum’s walls. Their personal journeys and unwavering commitment to infusing life into this space profoundly fascinated me. These elements formed the foundational pillars of the video’s concept and narrative.

Finally, I had a starting point. As I structured my residency concept, the narrative emerged that even in moments of disconnection, we can find a sense of connection. The pandemic had left many emotionally numb as we shielded ourselves from its impact, blocking our ability to empathize with others. I remembered the times when I had to deliberately disconnect to truly connect, and it was these moments that became the heart of my storytelling journey. My aim is that, as you watch the video, you not only feel something but also connect with yourself through the transformative power of art. You’ve got to feel to heal.

Colorful Self-Discovery

A brainstorming note: A fearless Muslim woman embraces vibrant colors, using her body as a canvas, affirming her identity and self-acceptance. Amid societal norms, she explores her inner self, history, faith, and transformation through art. Her message: Embrace authenticity, even when unconventional.

My journey to understanding Islam wasn’t tainted by negativity or media distortion; I had simply never given it much thought. I respected diverse perspectives.

It all began when I forged deep connections with Muslims who became integral to my life. Through these bonds, I explored and learned about Islam more deeply. But it was an impactful dream that truly solidified my path. In this dream, two angels questioned my desire to embrace Islam, and my simple reply was, ‘Because Allah will take care of me.’ Remarkably, I had this dream before I even began studying or caring about Islam, let alone considering becoming a Muslim. It was only after that dream that I started reading, searching, and taking it as a sign. In 2013, on a Friday, after much soul-searching, reading the Quran during lunch breaks, and spending Ramadan with Muslims, I recited my shahada.

The day of my Shahada at the Islamic Center of Irving in Texas (circa 2013). The “shahada” represents the Islamic declaration of faith, signifying a person’s acceptance of and commitment to the Islamic belief system. This declaration signifies belief in the oneness of Allah (God) and acknowledges Prophet Muhammad as His final messenger.

Parallel Narratives

Drowning in Paint: Symbolism and Struggles

In the video, you’ll notice that the act of “drowning” in paint was intentional. As an artist, I exposed myself to this experience deliberately as part of the performance. This immersion was designed to convey a sense of suffocation and anxiety to viewers, especially as the paint started to resemble a potential hazard. It was a way to evoke intense emotions and highlight the challenges and risks that can come with pursuing a career in the beauty industry, especially as a hijabi. This video tells a parallel story, mirroring my professional path and my spiritual journey as a Muslim convert.

Becoming One with Colors: A Journey of Identity

Just as the Shahada marks the initiation into becoming a Muslim, the dripping paint symbolizes the artist becoming one with colors. In the video, you see me almost immersed in the paint, which mirrors my relationship with makeup artistry—it’s my art, something I figuratively immerse myself in; it’s an essential part of me. However, it can also become suffocating and toxic, especially in the beauty industry, which is not for the faint of heart. It’s a landscape where resilience is paramount, and the video aims to shed light on this parallel journey.

Visual Symbolism: Navigating Identity and Insecurities

The symbolism conveyed through the video’s visual elements carries profound significance. The white background represents my quest for enlightenment and spiritual growth—an ongoing journey towards the light. Conversely, the presence of black attire mirrors the occasional insecurities that found their way into my thoughts. In a parallel thread, I grappled with profound questions not only concerning my artistic abilities but also regarding my identity as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab. Much like my confrontations with the challenges inherent in the beauty industry, I simultaneously navigated the unique struggles of being a convert in the Muslim community, an environment where judgment often overshadowed support. These intricately intertwined narratives within the video forge a deeply introspective and profoundly meaningful viewing experience.

Shifting perspectives

At the video’s end, you might have noticed a significant change in the story. It marks a crucial point in my journey—a shift away from external influences and towards a more objective perspective. This shift invites you to “IKRA,” which means to read and understand Islam for what it truly is, based on my personal study and reading, rather than relying on others’ interpretations.

Towards the video’s end, you may have noticed the absence of paint—a deliberate reversal symbolizing self-reflection and a fresh start. This element encapsulates my journey—a path free from predefined roles or expectations. In understanding Islam, personal study and reading became key, allowing me to grasp its teachings beyond others’ interpretations or ideals of a perfect Muslim.

In parallel, as a makeup artist, I faced the need to reassess my journey. Did I want to continue emulating renowned artists, or was it vital to forge my unique voice, technique, and aesthetic? This journey wasn’t about filling others’ shoes but discovering and embracing my own path.

In this blend of narratives, my video conveys a profound message: the transformative power of self-discovery and the importance of authenticity in both faith and artistry. It serves as a reminder that true fulfillment arises when we navigate our journeys with self-compassion, dedication, and the courage to be unapologetically ourselves.