The Art of the Matter: Safiyah Rizvi


Junior Safiyah Rizvi is in her element when she works on her artwork during her second period AP Studio Art class.

By Isa Gil, Social Media Editor

Some of us are born with undeniable talents across a variety of platforms; junior Safiyah Rizvi’s innate talent is clearly art.

Her passion and talent for art developed early on in her life. Ever since she was a young child, Rizvi knew that she and her pen had a connection that was irreplaceable.

“I have always loved to do art, since probably third grade. But my passion for art started freshmen year when I joined the Art Foundations class and learned a lot that helped me to keep going and improve my skill set,” Rizvi said.

Throughout her high school career, Rizvi has taken many different art classes in order to attempt to tread new waters and improve her range of skills. She has experimented with new mediums, such as painting and oils, straying from her beloved pen, through the different classes she has taken.

“I have taken Art Foundations, Drawing and Painting, Advanced Studio Art, and now I am in AP Studio Art, which I like very much,” Rizvi said.

Rizvi has gained a reputation for her beautiful works done entirely in ballpoint pen, which requires an immense amount of patience and time to finish. With these ballpoint pen works, a viewer can see each individual dot out of the hundreds in each picture. This unexpected artistic use of a ballpoint pen helps set Rizvi’s work apart from others.

“She probably could be best described as an artist that works with a variety of line in her work and tackles landscapes with a human element to them and sometimes has a little urban feel to her work. I think everybody thinks of a ballpoint pen as just more of a writing implement, a tool used to write an essay. She’s kind of turned that idea of the ballpoint pen into something different by using it now to complete her artwork,” art teacher John Zilewicz said.

Rizvi’s fascination with the ballpoint pen originated due to an assignment at the beginning of the year. Since then, she has become notorious for creating her pieces of artwork with that tool in hand.

“If you’ve seen all of her recent works, they’re all done in the ballpoint pen, and I think that originated out of a project we did at the beginning of the year, where she was given a ballpoint pen and had to work with it until it ran out. I think that got her interest for one reason or another, and it’s spiraled into something she’s turned into a pretty cool process: taking a tool not really known for making art and then making art with it, and her work is terrific,” Zilewicz said. “She’s used a variety of lines, layers, and infused colors on top of it.”

Classmate and junior Emily Mendieta admires how intricate and captivating Rizvi’s distinct designs are.

“Her talent is indescribable. She has a unique sense of style and works hard at what she loves. Her artwork is evidence of this,” Mendieta said.

Although her love for drawing is intense, Rizvi has discovered a new art form she is passionate about at Niles West: theater. Rizvi became involved in theatre her sophomore year when she was on the stage crew, and she believes she will continue to remain involved in theater in some form in the future.

“I’m not planning on pursuing studio art, but maybe something within the fine arts field, like technical theatre,” Rizvi said.

In theatre, Rizvi has been in charge of costumes and props and also is part of the scenic crew, where her passion for theatre can interact with her naturally artistic eye.

“I have done costumes and props in the past, working as prop head for two shows, and now I’m starting to work with the scenic crew and was assistant stage manager for Machinal,” Rizvi said.

Fellow theatre friend and junior Julia Matuszek has worked alongside Rizvi in theatre and notes her natural artistic talents shining through often in her work.

“She is extremely talented. She and I are in the costume crew, and whenever we paint, I’m in awe because her talent is so natural, and her work is amazing,” Matuszek said.

Christina Lappas contributed to this story.