Shayma Kamel: An Activist Egyptian Visual Artist

I have been an artist since I first held a pencil and started to scratch on my grandmother’s wall, drawing from my imagination all types of shapes and forms.

Everything inspires me, big or small scale, starting from my feet to the street animals that I encounter every day. The continuous changes in the world, political and cultural, and the different perspectives inspire me also. I take in lots of the images and news and then translate them into my language of art and paintings.


Mainly the themes I focus on are the contradictions in our life –that attract me a lot, those right and left, ups and downs, and how the stereotypes about different lifestyles are playing an important role on our world nowadays.


My grandmother remains the main influence in my work. I still use my grandmother’s fabrics that are full of bright colors and that make my work nostalgic, especially when I work with collage. The image is almost always  a black woman figure, like me or any of my family.

    Artists, in general, are supporting themselves; it is still a long road to put  

    the artists (not the actor in cinema) as a primary interest to people.

Due to lack of education, fine art is still seen as decoration that should be cheap and not as important as any new vase or any new electronic; it comes at the last of choice. However, within the last 5 years there is a movement to incorporate art more, and some rich people are investing in art. Still, there is not a lot of information/knowledge about art in Egypt, and its cultural and historical value.

There are some avenues for you to show my work in galleries in Cairo, and Beirut where I can show my work, but there are not enough venues.

Like any artists in her 40 who is looking forward to live from her Art, that is still a big challenge.  Who is spending on what?!!

Yet, Art will always be the language that translates life from a true human perspective, and it is the healing that gives meaning to this fast life that we are living, without a break to understand what happened the last second before.

 COVID actually allowed me to connect better with other artists around the world, to talk and discuss more about how we can share our studios together through the internet, and at the same time work. I think for us it was blessing to be forced to sit and do the job without being distracted by going out a lot and social responsibilities.

Screaming Faith

I am in contact with women artists in many countries like Lebanon, Jordon, JAMIAKA, Holland, Sudan and many other places.

I just finished up my solo Exhibition in Cairo that was part of my last journey in Lebanon that ended up unfortunately, with the big port blast August 2020, and that pushed me out of the country and replaced me back to Egypt.  This exhibition it experimenting and documenting part of those years I lived in Lebanon, which were very difficult and I was subjected to racism as a Black Egyptian woman. 

I would love to show my work at MOMA IN THE US and other Arab countries like Dubai, and African countries like Senegal, Europe, Germany, France, all over the world…

I love collaborating with other artists and for sure always seeking the right space in which to work. I also dream to get the chance to work in a big museum and fill it with my works. I would love to make an exhibition about my last 40 years of being an artist in one of the museums in the world.

Freedom 1

 Art is activism –when we try to make a statement that mirrors what is happening in our society, positive or negative, that’s a activism. And yes, I am an activist artist because through my art I also seek to help my society and try to fix the world around me.

 You can see and learn more about Shayma Kamel below:  Contact Email:

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