Rubina Anjum: The Planet Earth Series: Art, technology and the beauty of the natural world

Updated: Jan 23

“It is no secret that the Earth is in trouble and that we humans are to blame. Just knowing these grim facts, however, won’t get us very far. We have to transform this knowledge into a deep passion to change course. But passion does not come primarily from the head; it is a product of the heart. And the heart is not aroused by the bare facts alone. It needs stories that weave those facts into a moving and meaningful narrative.”

“We need a powerful new story that we are a part of nature and not separate from it. We need a story that properly situates humans in the world — neither above it by virtue of our superior intellect, nor dwarfed by the universe into cosmic insignificance. We are equal partners with all that exists, co-creators with trees and galaxies and the microorganisms in our own gut, in a materially and spiritually evolving universe.”

This was the breathtaking vision of the late Thomas Berry. Berry taught that humanity is presently at a critical decision point:

“Either we develop a more heart-full relationship with the Earth that sustains us, or we destroy ourselves and life on the planet.”

Every day billions of people, including myself, take a breath of air that is sustained by Earth’s atmosphere. While I do not take my breath for granted, it is, unfortunately, not often that I pause to reflect on the deeper connection my life has to this planet.

However, several weeks ago, I did.

While walking through the departure terminal at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, I found myself in Moore’s Crossing Gallery.

As I pulled my suitcase and considered which coffee kiosk I would stop at, I noticed I was surrounded by art. Beautiful art. I looked to my left and saw a stunning oil painting of the Earth and for the first time in a long time, I paused.

Mother Earth Oil Painting on canvas by Rubina Anjum inspired by NASA Imagery

I wondered, who is the person behind such art that inspired me to pause and reflect on deepening a heart-centered connection with our Earth?

(Photo Credit: John Nguyen) Rubina Anjum

It was Rubina Anjum, a freelance artist based in Austin, Texas. Rubina uses art to communicate her awe of the beauty of the natural world.

Working extensively with watercolors and oil paints, she is currently devoted to the completion of a series of large-scale oil paintings rendering the surface of the Earth from space.

The Planet Earth Series is inspired by images taken from the Landsat7 satellite of the US Geological Survey.

Here is my conversation with Rubina:

BJB: Spirituality is about transformation and being creative is transformative. When we create something that did not exist before, the process moves us beyond ourselves. Why do you describe creativity as a spiritual activity?

RA: Creativity is a spiritual activity.

When I exercise my artistic practice on a regular basis, I embark upon a journey of deep discovery. This practice enables me to unveil layers of meaning. As the layers open up, something magical happens. I spin new forms and colors in matter of seconds. These colorful shapes coalesce in a self- guided harmony of pleasing, comprehensible and unique artwork.

When my artistic practice becomes habit then something even more miraculous happens and I start seeing partial or full visions of artwork in my head. Then I can choose to bring the visions to life in their entirety or take inspiration from them. At times I do both.

In both instances, my artistic practice leads to new pathways of creativity. This creativity takes flight when the miracle of spontaneous art reveals itself and when unique artistic forms flash onto my inner sight.

These indeed are very spiritual experiences.

(Photo Credit: John Nguyen) Rubina Anjum with Mother Earth

BJB: While the “Planet Earth Series is inspired by images taken from the Landsat7 satellite of the US Geological Survey,” what is your personal inspiration for creating the Planet Earth Series paintings?