The She Series Book
This book features 120 inspirational icons with each portrait accompanied by a 500 word essay by 50 authors.
Geared toward middle-grade aged readers and up. By Karen Hallion.
CHRONICLE To make a record or tell the history of something
For Saleha Contractor, discovering the ability to chronicle emotions through art was just one part of her journey. It not only transformed her hobby into a business, she also realized that her creativity was urging her to look beyond traditional ways of thinking. Saleha was inspired to use her artwork to create a new way for her and others to engage with the Islamic faith.
Contractor’s artistic expression combines abstract art and calligraphy to chronicle Islamic history.
Traditionally, Islamic art is inanimate and done through design, represented through calligraphy, patterns, and geometric designs on objects, or sacred architecture. But Saleha broke the mold with her abstract approach—it didn't conform to the standards of traditional religious artwork—and at first, she only had a very niche clientele that appreciated her point of view.
But over the years, as Contractor’s art gained exposure, she realized she was creating a unique body of work that was becoming recognizable. The natural next step was to expand and take her artwork to the global stage. She had no gallery representation, art grant, or guidance on how to scale a company to produce and ship prints of her work internationally. But as a first-generation immigrant with a hunger to succeed, she knew she could use her creative skills to figure it out.
Saleha has faced pushback not just for her unique style, but also as a woman of color, and a mother, in the male-dominated art industry. But she’s refused to give up her dream. “I was motivated by women who were successful after starting a family,” Contractor explains. “Our priorities change after motherhood, but that doesn’t mean we quit our passion. That would only mean that we didn’t believe in it enough. If God has blessed us with talent, it’s selfish of us not to pursue it and share it for the greater good.”
Often approached by artists looking for advice on how to increase the value of their work and create a revenue stream from print sales, Saleha is transparent about the challenges she’s had to overcome along the way. Juggling motherhood and pursuing her dream has required a lot of sacrifices. Chronicling this journey on social media has helped her create a dialogue and connect with aspiring artists and other moms, and she has inspired others to pursue their artistic passion and keep striving despite rejection.
Whether her artwork is the focal point of a home, a future heirloom families can pass down through generations, or hanging in a gallery of a 5-star hotel in Makkah situated across from the holiest site for Muslims, Saleha is excited about the connection people have with her pieces. She is proud, knowing that her work is inspiring an emotional response or a conversation with friends and family.
Saleha Contractor’s artwork is chronicling Islamic history in a non-traditional way and is fulfilling the vision she set out with from the start.
Tasmiha Khan, Journalist