CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The artist in Homaira Ahmed has been sneaking out for years.
Now she is ready to fully cherish that side of herself.
At 50, Ahmed has exuberantly embraced her creativity, turning out pottery in just about every style from her home studio. She paints. She draws. She designs furniture and takes photographs. She cooks the ethnic food of her native Bangladesh.
She even designed the studio and gallery now under construction in Putnam County that she plans to open March 1.
Ahmed realizes she is taking a risk. But she also believes has an opportunity to live another life, the life of an artist.
She said she was interested in art as a young woman and wanted to study art in college.
"But my mother said, 'All the artists are drug dealers,'" Ahmed recalled. "And at that time, you didn't go against your parents."
So she studied architecture at the University of Engineering and Technology in Bangladesh. Her last semester there included an introduction to pottery and she fell in love with it.
Life took over, however. Married at 18 to a man who would become a doctor, Ahmed worked as an architect, first in her native country and then in Philadelphia when they moved to the United States in 1987.
She raised two daughters, the youngest of whom is now a junior at George Washington High School, and went to work running her husband's office, fitting in art classes whenever she had time.
The Ahmeds moved to West Virginia in 2000 when Safique Ahmed opened an oncology practice in Logan and Ahmed said she decided it was time to start pursuing her art seriously by taking classes with master potters around the country and working toward an art degree at the University of Charleston, which she completed this past year.
She still does much of the business work for her husband's office, though she does it from their Charleston home rather than commute to Logan each day.
"Now, I told him, it's his turn to help me," Ahmed said. In fact, her husband both appreciates her art and enjoys creative pursuits of his own - he's an avid photographer.
Their home off Corridor G south of the shopping centers is a gallery of sorts of both of their work.
Ahmed says she has made pottery every day for the last seven years, exploring every technique and style she sees. She makes pieces on a wheel and by cutting flat clay she rolls and builds. She makes art pieces and useful pieces for the kitchen. She has experimented with glazes from the raku style to painting on designs. She has carved clay and cut designs into clay and even made pieces by the ancient method of rolling ropes of clay and winding them to form pots.
"I sat outside on the porch swing to make that," she said.
Ahmed's body of work has no one set "look" to it and she said she's still trying new things.
"I take some of my designs from nature," she said. "I also like the old styles."