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Mace & Crown | March 22, 2018

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ODU Alumnus Shomi Patwary on Experiencing the American Dream

ODU Alumnus Shomi Patwary on Experiencing the American Dream
Elizabeth Proffitt
Contributing Writer

Shomi PatwaryThe “American dream” has been used to describe the ideal American life since the 1930s. The general allure for a better life and the optimism for anyone being able to reach their goals spurs creativity.

It is in that spirit that Shomi Patwary and Navid Rahman base most of their artistic success through the creation of their own “American Dreams.” Through their exhibition at Work Release on Granby St. in Norfolk, Virginia, the pair illustrated their inspiration and separate artistic journeys with their multimedia show, which ran from Jan. 22-30.

The artists spoke to a packed restaurant of art lovers and students on the eve of the close of their show. They recounted stories from their pasts, which made them what they are today, and talked about where they would like to go in the future.

Patwary, an alumnus of Old Dominion University, spoke for most of the mini lecture, while the more introverted Rahman gave a tutorial and drew on a tablet, which projected onto a screen for the audience to see.

Of the two artists, Rahman is the illustrator while Patwary is primarily a music video director. He has worked with Beyoncé, A$AP Rocky and Charli XCX. These achievements were inspiration for the name of their show as Rahman and Patwary feel they are really living the American dream.

Patwary’s latest production – “New Level” – A$AP Ferg ft. Future

The artists have known each other since they were children, and so this collaboration was natural. They balance each other well. Rahman focuses on details and line-work in his art, while Patwary focuses more on the big picture and final result of the project.

“I can’t stick to one thing forever. I have to always try something new, and that’s how I kind of ended up doing video,” Patwary said. “Everything was kind of self-taught, so like, Pharrell [Williams] would ask if we knew how to do a DVD for him, and we’d just say yes and try to figure it out on our own. We were hungry, so we’d just try and do whatever they wanted.”

“It’s really weird, because we were looking up at these guys and they were actually liking and watching our stuff. It’s really a dream,” Patwary said.

To wrap up the talk, the artists spoke about the inspiration for the title of their show and what the American dream means to them.

“[The American dream] sounds like such basic words that people have heard over and over again, especially now with the political climate, and with people talking about how ‘they’re going to make America great again’… It’s kind of funny that you’ve got two brown guys that are representing the American Dream,” Patwary said, while gazing around at the scenes of his most successful music videos projected on the walls and curtains surrounding the room.


Rahman ended the discussion saying, “The idea of the American dream is really simple to me. It’s opportunity, comfort and happiness… Being able to work as an illustrator is the most fulfilling thing to me because I am surrounded by people that I love, that push me to excellence. You really can’t ask more than that.”

You can see more of Patwary’s work on his website.