Mahwish Syed and Clove Ellis
“Paradise is a State of Mind”
Place a Bid
The Story
Mahwish Syed
New York, NY
Social Media: @mahwish_syed_designs
Book: “Purgatory to Paradise”
Breast Cancer Survivor
Twist on Cancer: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

We don’t choose cancer; cancer chooses us. I likened my cancer as an initiation, an introduction to a part of myself that had lain dormant. That part that I referred to in my book, PURGATORY TO PARADISE, is Persephone. She is known in Greek mythology as the goddess who gave us the seasons. Cancer was my Hades who took me against my will to the Underworld. Her pomegranate seeds were my seeds of wisdom—the lessons I learned while going through cancer. And like Persephone, I commuted between my light and shadow, my pain and pleasure, my life and death.

One of those seeds of wisdom I will share with you: don’t wait to get better to feel beautiful! Feel beautiful in the mess, in the scars, in the wounds, in the sloughing off from the old you. Allow the light to enter you exactly where you are in your journey. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but meet yourself, the divinity in you, and embrace all the wisdom that comes from letting go.

Sharing my journey with artist Clove Ellis was deeply healing. She created a doorway and a portal to be able to see yourself as you are. Drawing on the deep ruby of pomegranate seeds and the rich ebony of the Underworld where we cancer initiates go. This rite of passage is a symbolic act of owning your beauty. And that is the exact place where the light enters you.
Clove Ellis
Detroit, MI
Social Media: @peachfuzzums
“Paradise is a State of Mind”
Mixed Media
~8"x2.5" without a frame
Artist Statement: Acrylic paint, hand-sewn beads, and individually placed crystal gems dance across transformed recycled curtains. Onyx fur flows lining the bottom of the fabric panels, softening the landing of the eye. Gradients of black to pomegranate to cream smoothly transition upwards, creating a warm halo at the top of the scene. This fabric drapes to either side of a 30-inch mirror, framing the viewer in luxury. This installation creates a setting for viewers' contemplation of self perception, and contextualizing oneself within and of beauty in an environment where the focus is otherwise on objects outside of oneself.

My Inspiration does not see cancer as something to battle, but rather, as an opportunity to reclaim beauty, to transform the soul, and step into her power. With this attitude and the motifs she shared with me, I was inspired to create a piece that transformed a space into something beautiful, and engage the viewers to see themselves in a new way.