Rusty metal, oil paints make for champion artwork

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Jan. 1, 2018 at 5:45 p.m.
Updated Jan. 2, 2018 at 6 a.m.

Victoria West student Sana Saif, 18, is oil painting cattle on rusted metal for the Houston Livestock Show.

Victoria West student Sana Saif, 18, is oil painting cattle on rusted metal for the Houston Livestock Show.   Angela Piazza for The Victoria Advocate

Sana Saif transformed tragedy into beauty using oil paints and a rusty piece of metal.

The oil painting called "Rusty Ride" depicts two cowboys riding horses and twirling their lassos, attempting to rope cattle. It was painted on a rusted piece of metal that came from a shed door ripped off by Hurricane Harvey.

"It was meant to be," said Sana, 18.

The Victoria West High School senior and art student won grand champion in the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Western Art competition with the artwork.

Her chance encounter with the metal came when she was driving past a Walgreens and saw a trailer containing scrap metal parked in the parking lot.

She pulled up to the trailer's owner and asked if she could take a piece of metal.

He said yes, and two days later her piece was cut and ready to go, she said.

All Sana had to do was prime the metal because it was already rusty. But she didn't know the primer would react to the metal as it did.

"It turned white. I cried for a few days," she said, explaining she sanded and rusted the metal to repair it.

About six weeks working of day and night went into capturing her vision, she said.

She even spent Halloween working on it while also working at her family's business, Aman's Jewelers in the Victoria Mall.

The cowboy scene comes from a picture taken by another photographer, Sana said.

After her artwork was complete, the girlfriend of one of the cowboys contacted her. It turns out the couple know the person who gave Sana the metal.

"It's a small world," Sana said.

The top 25 pieces of art from hundreds of artists across the San Antonio region are selected to be auctioned at the livestock show. Six Victoria West students and one East High School student earned spots in the top 25.

Each student will receive the full sale amount in the form of a scholarship.

The seven-year experienced artist plans to attend the Savannah College of Art in Savannah, Ga.

"I don't like doing one thing for too long," she said about her work in sculpture and photography.

Sana frequently uses her sister, Hansa Saif, as her model.

"She finds art in the littlest things," said Hansa, 15.

Sana and her family are from Pakistan and moved to the United States when she was 6, Sana said.

"I don't like attention, but of course I'm going to get attention for wearing this," she said, gesturing to her white headdress. "There are not a lot of visible Muslims in Victoria."

When the Victoria Islamic Center burned in January, she created an art project to commemorate it.

"Victoria has gone through a lot," she said. "I have a passion for art. I'm doing something I love."


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