Hi! My name is Aadila Munshi. I am a contemporary artist in my mid-forties living a rich and rewarding artist life in Toronto, Canada. In an equally rewarding former life, I lived in South Africa during the apartheid era, where I was a budding Criminologist at the University of Cape Town. I have come full circle in the most poetic way, having spent my formative years in Barrie, Ontario. My fondest and clearest memory of my kindergarten classroom at Allandale Heights Public School is the back room where the kid-sized easels were stored. They were loaded with paint pots in primary colours and rolls of paper with endless possibilities. A very happy place in my memory. Full circle, indeed!
My path to this painterly life has been a journey filled with life experiences both extraordinary and mundane. Growing up as a person of colour in the socio-political milieu of apartheid South Africa ensured that I was surrounded by powerful mentors (world-famous too!) and resolute role models, both male and female. I am grateful to have stepped into a creative role that threads all of these influences together meaningfully.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
My first shift in perspective happened in my mid-twenties. I was newly wed to the love of my life, and returned to Canada permanently, leaving behind a promising career and ALL my friends and family in South Africa. This move pressed me to audit myself in earnest. I began to lean towards minimalism and a focus on clarity. Dispelling of the ‘extras’ in my life shifted me into a space where I enjoyed a wonderfully connected, honest, and delightfully fresh internal dialogue. I also embraced the fact that I had been a painter my whole life, thanks to the foresight of my brilliant father who arranged for me to be privately tutored by a professional artist for many years.
When I had my first child at 35, I experienced another fundamental shift in my perspective. I began to pay more attention to my various roles, clarifying and creating space for more fulfillment, more meaning. My greatest shift overall has been to trust myself absolutely in all my endeavours. It gives me the power to confidently choose for myself what excites me the most. As an artist, it has been a saving grace for me to have embraced this practice of uncluttered perspective sooner rather than later. With little to no second-guessing I believe we each must stay true to our own vision, despite the abundant ‘noise’ around us.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
I am aware of a sense of power when I am fully embracing the roles that are most important to me. I feel powerful when I am one hundred percent present as a mother, a partner, a painter, a family member, and a compassionate fellow human. My artwork is closely connected to the human condition, and strongly aligned to concepts of resilience and rising above. I feel powerful when I create my best work, and when my paintings and my intention tie together beautifully to output the messages that I want to convey…mainly of love, resilience, hope, and strength.
What are the top three most important things to you right now?
- At the top of my list is the health, happiness, and well-being of my immediate and extended family
- My personal health, fitness and nutrition – so that I can age gracefully!
- Feeding my soul through charity, as well as meaningful and fulfilling creative output, that makes its way into our world.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
I am always educating myself, formally and informally. I feel that is the best way to plant seeds for the future. In this way my roles, and especially my role as a mother and example to my child, are enlightened and more meaningfully executed. I also consistently push myself into zones of discomfort to grow my artistic practice and knowledge. I have aligned my artistic output with my social justice proclivities, and so every time a piece of art moves on into the world, I feel I am sending out a piece of my perspective, and quite simply spreading the love.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
I would say that anyone embarking on change should know themselves first through honest introspection. Everything you need for the journey is within yourself. Embrace and acknowledge your strengths, know your limits, trust your instincts. I always get a feeling, a keen sense when something (or someone) is at odds with my core. With such self-awareness as your guide, your confidence will rise to the occasion, and you can and will lead yourself to success.
How can people connect with you and your work?
I am active on Instagram where I document my art journey and post about new work, art exhibitions, and upcoming painting releases. I invite you to follow me there and to join my mailing circle to be informed when new paintings are released. I can also be reached through my website where available paintings can be acquired.