Skip to Main Content
Midtown News Center

Heart of the Arts: Mixed-Media Artist Sayma Hossain Weaves Unconventional Found-Object Tapestries

Hossain's current series is an homage to her Bangladeshi heritage and a commentary on food waste.



Where one person might see food packaging waste headed for a landfill or discarded rope once used for rock climbing, Sayma Hossain sees a future work of art.

Hossain is one of seven Artists in Residence taking part in Midtown Alliance’s 2023-24 Heart of the Arts program, and she currently occupies studio space across from Emory University Hospital Midtown on the south end of the district. We spoke with Hossain about her work.

Reimagining the Traditional Textile

Hossain has lived in the Atlanta area for nearly her entire life, after moving here with her family from Bangladesh when she was just six. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Textile Design from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University in 2016.

“By sewing, weaving and quilting with found, inorganic materials such as grocery bags, single use plastic food, and synthetic fiber, I want to play with the intersection of the organic and the synthetic, the traditional and the commercial, and how these juxtapositions can help us think deeper about the past, present and future of what we consume and what we make,” she said.

Watch Sayma describe her work:

Growing Her Practice, Expanding Her Limits

Hossain learned about Midtown Alliance’s Heart of the Arts Studio residency program from members of the previous cohort she knows from the Atlanta art community, including Jasmine Nicole Williams. She worked as Williams’ assistant to paint her “On the Strip” mural in 10th Street Park.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to grow my practice, and more importantly, expand my limits,” Hossain said. “I knew this would give me the opportunity to create what I really want to create.”

Now that she has a Midtown studio residency of her own, one of her goals is to expand her practice into public installation work. She’s particularly interested in large-scale installations and interactive, tactile public murals in parks or open spaces that highlight the power that textiles can hold in our daily lives.

Despite living in Atlanta for most of her life, Hossain hadn’t spent much time in the Midtown Improvement District before her residency.

“I worked off Howell Mill when I had a corporate job, but I’ve never been on this side, per se,” she said. “It definitely feels more residential, with a lot of foot traffic. That’s a really nice feeling… I personally enjoy the balance of being able to just walk and bike everywhere.”

During her time as an artist in residence, Hossain plans to open up her studio to host community weaving or sewing workshops.

“These workshops would highlight the importance of reusing and recycling what you already own, whether it’s mending something precious to you or learning a new skill,” she said. “I would also like to do a community outreach program for local children to teach them how to sew, repair or mend clothes.”

Drawing on Familial and Cultural Influences

Growing up as a Bangladeshi-American in the American South, Hossain didn’t see many South Asian artists around her as a child.

Oaxacan Diet, 2022

“I would love to highlight work from my background and culture,” she said. “Being raised in Atlanta, it would be an honor to exhibit the diversity I grew up seeing around me.”

Currently, Hossain is focused on a plastic quilt series that highlights one’s relationship with food. She saved all the food wrappers from a recent residency in Mexico and wove them together into a colorful piece that hangs into her studio.

“Food is a huge part of who I am,” Hossain said. “My mom was a chef. I grew up with the intricacies of just how to pick the right produce and how to find the right butcher shop. That is her art, so that clearly bled into me.”

Much of the world’s textiles and garments are manufactured in and imported from Bangladesh, so this part of her work is also a homage to her heritage.

“That’s a huge influence for me of being a seamstress and working with fabric,” she said. “I originally did start off being a designer, being a seamstress, costume making, and then I was just like, ‘I don’t want to put it on bodies anymore. I’ll put it on the walls.’”

Learn more about Midtown Alliance’s Heart of the Arts program here.

Share This