|Suha with her painting ‘The Other Side’.|
DEARBORN — As henna and makeup artists continue to flourish in the community, more and more young women decide to put their talent to work and showcase it on social media, gaining fans around the world.
Suha Suleiman, a freelance henna and makeup artist in Dearborn, is one of many who did.
“In my eyes, a blank hand is a blank canvas,” Suleiman said. “That’s the way I look at it.”
She graduated in 2014 from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s degree in art, which only a small number of Arab Americans choose to pursue.
Most are encouraged by their parents to earn the typical or rather expected degrees in the community, which are assumed to enrich their lives academically and financially.
At first, Suleiman wanted to major in chemistry and apply to a physician’s assistant program right after graduation, because she was genuinely interested in the medical field. However, when she found out that the program does not require a science degree, she chose to major in art and finish the required courses for the physician’s assistant program.
“My end goal was to become a physician assistant, so my parents accepted my decision to change my major,” she said.
Both her parents were architects in Yemen who also enjoyed drawing, so they did encourage her to nurture her talent from a young age.
“I’ve always been a different child who focused on coloring and drawing with crayons and colored pencils instead of doing other things,” she said.
“My dad would sit down next to me, take my notebook and draw little faces and I always wanted to imitate him; so that kind of sparked a little fire under my feet and made me want to pursue it further.”
Over time, her talent and love for art grew, shifting into something she knew she had to do in the long run. She combined more than one interest to find the right career.
“My love for art kind of translated into my love for henna and that developed into my love for makeup,” Suleiman said. “I’ve been doing henna for three years now, but I didn’t take it seriously until like three months ago. That’s when I decided that I should do it for other people.”
After starting her Instagram page, makeupbysu, her fan base increased, along with her freelance business. Along the way, she discovered another career path that allows her to use her caring nature and talent: Art therapy, which is now one of her main goals.
“Personally, I still want to pursue PA just for myself, because I’ve always been interested in it,” she said. “But, I want to be an art therapist, which is another form of regular therapy that uses art as a form of communication instead of conversation.”
With that in mind, Suleiman decided to apply to a master’s program in art therapy.
“My goal is to be really well known, not only in Dearborn, but all over Michigan,” she said.
She advised talented artists to fight for what they want in life because they should be happy with whatever they do.
“Depending on the parents, it could be a battle,” she said. “For me, my passion overcame my parents’ initial decision of my future; so it all goes back to how much you’re willing to fight for what you really want.”