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artist statement

My art is largely impacted by the socio-political issues around Islam, U.S./Pakistan relations, and my distance & proximity as a South Asian American.  I have experienced the rupture of being raised in a collectivist and modest culture in a climate of growing xenophobia and Islamophobia.  As a response I create art objects in the in-between spaces of fiber, drawing, and print media, creating imagery that is often based on direct observation of the figure or an environment, which I then obscure and re-imagine in a new context.  My practice begins with research and collecting, collecting media imagery, oral histories, literary text, family photographs and textile motifs.  I work thematically over time exploring themes of  belonging and nationalism, collective trauma and personal loss, resistance and reconciliation; my work has a never ending quality, as the work renegotiates with history and present cultural representations and conflicts.  The writings of intersectional feminists, scholars, and cultural theorists like  Chandra T. Mohanty, Lila Abu-Lugod, and Homi Bhaba have influenced my concepts and ideas.  Dialogues with Muslim women in the U.S., family and friends in the U.S., Middle East, and Pakistan and the larger South Asian American community continue to shape and inform my art practice.

I use embroidery as a drawing medium to bridge the gap between modern and historical practices of women and speak to the porous line in South Asian culture between craft and fine art, traditional and contemporary aesthetics and labor. With my series everyday suspects, and the suspect is my son, I employ embroidery to call into question the domestic war on terror, which began long before 9/11 to target law-abiding Muslim Americans, and I draw a parallel to the domestic disturbances experienced by individuals at sites of war/conflict in the international war on terror. The works situate my viewers in aerial and peripheral targets of domestic and civil spaces, the benign and the personal. I confront the notion of "unmournable Muslim bodies" and the “precision of drone warfare” through my works which reference the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's archive, "Naming the Dead," a listing of individual drone causalities inside Pakistan. The archive being a living document has inspired my response in performances where I honor a set of names.  Ultimately my body of work adds to the conversation of xenophobia, the dehumanization of brown and Muslim bodies, and what American collateral damage looks like.

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