BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In our Women Wednesdays, one Bakersfield woman is working to share her story about her religion and identity and create a platform for those like her.
An artist, a Muslim podcast creator, a small business owner, a feminist, and a Yemeni American, that’s Noor Qwfan.
She works to spread awareness about her religion and culture, she inspires women at out there to speak up, and breaks stereotypes and misconceptions along the way.
“Everything that I do is always trying to shed light on things that either impact me or impact people that look like me.”
Noor Qwfan is a proud Muslim woman, who wears the hijab, or headscarf, and works to share stories of her culture and upbringing.
“Growing up, I think like most children of immigrants, or people who have kind of like two identities that they are trying to navigate, I too struggled with that. So, a lot of my art is really reflective of understanding like where do I stand on certain ideologies.”
As a form of self-expression, she started creating art with meaning.
She found that people could relate to her work, and in 2019 launched her small business, Noor’s Nook, to sell stickers and cards.
“I think this is probably one of my favorites and most popular stickers. So, it’s a woman who is wearing a niqab, which is a face covering, and she has rhinestones bedazzled at the bottom that says leave me alone.”
Noor was born in Yemen but migrated to the U.S. with her family in 1992. She grew up in Bakersfield and also graduated from CSUB.
Her work reflects her background and wants to show the world where she comes from.
She also wants to create a platform for women to feel seen and heard, even if it means challenging traditional norms.
“There’s a saying that would say “sawt al maraa awrah”, which means a woman’s voice is to be concealed, as in she’s not supposed to speak out or be outspoken. Interestingly enough in the Arabic language, if you take out one letter from the last work which means concealed, it completely transforms not only the word but also the entire meaning. So it goes, from “sawt al maraa awrah” to “sawt al maraa thawra” which means a woman’s voice is revolutionary. I think that’s very powerful.”
Her art is also a way for others in her community to feel included and represented.
“What I always found was that I could never find something that was really relatable to me in terms of like our types of weddings, or our types of holidays and I thought like you know, why not create them myself. This is a birthday card that says, “happy brizday to you”, which is kind of like in an Arab accent.”
Through her art and her podcast, This Muslim Girl Podcast, Noor said she hope to inspire women and girls out there to speak up and believe in themselves.
She said that being able to see someone who looks like you can motivate women to feel their best.
“I needed someone like that growing up, and now that I have the opportunity to maybe be like that for someone else, that would be amazing.”
Her Instagram bio also has snippets from her episodes with her guests and links to her other artwork as well.