Bushra Yousaf, an Edmonton based visual artist, highlights the struggles of day-to-day life through her art. As the second youngest of six children, she was privileged enough to be able to pursue her arts career with the full support of her family. Growing up in Multan, Pakistan she mastered sketching and drawing at a young age, and her skills quickly became well known in her community. In grade ten she sold her first painting through a local art dealer. This opened career opportunities for her, and she was able to regularly sell her paintings through him. After graduating high school, she attended the Women’s University in Multan and completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004.
Even at a young age, art was predominant for both Bushra and her brother. Multan, a city rich with culture and history, supplied ample subject matter for her paintings, drawing on Arabic calligraphy, images of the locals, and beautiful vibrant landscapes. When Bushra immigrated to Australia, she started a photography business. Enthralled by the country’s beauty, she wanted to capture it all. After 2011 her new home in Edmonton gave her a fresh perspective, with its dramatic season changes and a different way of life.
A few years after moving to Edmonton, Bushra experienced the loss of her father. This affected her profoundly, because of their close relationship. She missed his support, and it was difficult to be creative when dealing with the grief. Nevertheless, through the sadness she began using bolder and brighter colours. As well, Bushra’s paintings shifted from detailed realism to bolder abstract-coloured portraits of women. This series in oils - chosen for their richness and versatility – called the Humanities Portrait project deals with different emotions shown through colours, surrounding, superimposing and blurring the portrait. Her arbitrary use of colour blur the lines between race and ethnicity, bringing awareness to the harm caused by stereotypes. In part this cancels out stereotypes to make everyone equal in both life’s highs and lows —regardless of their cultural background. Bushra plans to create more portraits to see where these evolve and to later have a solo exhibition.
As an active member of the arts community, Bushra is not new to discrimination and to their selectivity. Women’s art has not always occupied the space it deserves, and Bushra’s is no exception. It has taken much effort to get to her first solo exhibition in December 2023. Although excited about the opportunity, she is frustrated that more opportunities are given to men than women. She hopes her first solo exhibit makes a mark on Edmonton for its uniqueness and quality and for the positive impact it can have on women and BIPOC individuals.
Bushra is grateful for the opportunities she has had. Being able to share her art passion by donating art for fundraisers and to charities is a way for the artist to give back and to bring happiness to those around her. For artists starting out, Bushra encourages them to believe in their talent and to keep track of their journey by recording every artwork along the way. Bushra’s own journey shows just how far she has come with patience, hard work, and determination.
Based on an interview with Aysheni Aurora in 2023
WAM is located within Treaty 6 Territory and within the Métis homelands and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 4. We acknowledge this land as the traditional territories of many First Nations such as the Nehiyaw (Cree), Denesuliné (Dene), Nakota Sioux (Stoney), Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) and Niitsitapi (Blackfoot).
MAF est situé dans le territoire du Traité no 6 et dans les terres ancestrales métisses et la Nation métisse de la région 4 de l’Alberta. Nous reconnaissons ces terres comme les territoires traditionnels de nombreuses Premières Nations comme les Nehiyaw (Cris), les Denesuliné (Dénés), les Sioux Nakota (Stoney), les Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) et les Niitsitapi (Pieds-Noirs).
Copyright © 2024 Women's Art Museum of Canada - All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2024 Musée d'art de la femme du Canada - Tous droits réservés.