Princess Simpson Rashid loved to read fantasy novels as a child. Her preteen years were forged by stories of valiant knights vanquishing adversaries for passion and honor. She covered her walls with her original depictions of the triumphant scenes, as any creative youth would. She was drawn to painting at an early age. Rashid also dreamt of being the dragon slayer, herself, and as a young woman took up fencing by chance. She has been devout to both the sword and the brush ever since.
Above: The perseverance taught through fencing and being a professional artist gave Princess Simpson Rashid strength to win her recent battle with cancer.
Today, Rashid paints out of a studio in Jacksonville’s CoRK Arts District and continues her fencing training a few blocks away. As a painter her medium is primarily abstract oil paintings on canvas, and her works are housed in both private and public collections around the Unites States and Europe. As a fencer, she has competed across the nation and she trains on all three types of swords: foil, Épée and sabre.
“My coach still admonishes me to this day for not focusing on one of the fighting styles, but being able to do multiple things has always helped me with my art,” Rashid says. For her, fencing and painting intersect seamlessly in everyday life. “Both [fencing and art] are wrought with failure and perseverance,” Rashid states, “and both feed each other with technique and refinement.”
It is that continued growth and bullheadedness that have helped Rashid slay dragons of all ilk and size throughout her life. The happily married mother has faced some of life’s most untamed adversities and has stood the victor.
Her aforementioned childhood love of art was not quite encouraged by her parents, which led her to take up volleyball as an extracurricular activity only after she had completed her homework. Rashid excelled at both school and sport and landed an athletic scholarship at Georgia Southern University. An injury during the physics major’s freshman year required her to cross train for recovery and that is how she ended up fencing. She would eventually eschew volleyball for fencing. Rashid says that she was drawn to the individual accountability for successes and failures offered by fencing.
During college she would also fall in love and, eventually, marry a then soon-to-be-commissioned Navy pilot. As a military wife, she followed her husband to Puerto Rico, where she enrolled at the renowned Escuela de Artes Plastica (The School of Plastic Arts) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her husband’s flightpath would lead to Jacksonville in 2000.
Less than a year ago, Rashid fought and slayed her biggest dragon when she won a battle against breast cancer. “I kept training for fencing throughout the recovery process, because no matter how weak I was, fencing gave a reason to get out of bed,” Rashid shares. Today she is gratefully cancer-free and more focused than ever on her passions as an artist and a fencer.
“I’m in love with Plein Aire painting right now,” Rashid says. “We live in such a beautiful place that it seems only natural to want to be outside painting and enjoying life.”
To see more of Princess Rashid’s work visit her website at princessrashidart.com or you can see her work at the Lift exhibition at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens through February.
For more information about the Jacksonville Fencing Club visit jaxfencingclub.org
Rashid is head coach at the Jacksonville Fencing Club.
Rashid appreciates the individual accountability that fencing provides athletes.
The painter at home in her studio at CoRk.