MacArthur Fellow: Pakistani-American

September 28, 2006 by  


Shahzia Sikander (pictured above by David Adams), a Pakistani-American artist, has been named a member of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. She is among the 25 people who will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years.

“Selection for a MacArthur Fellowship is the culmination of an intensive review of the creative efforts and promise of each Fellow. Our call comes as a complete surprise and offers the new Fellows the gift of time and an unfettered opportunity to reflect, explore, and create,” said MacArthur President, Jonathan Fanton.

Sikander’s art ranges from intimate watercolors to mural-scale wall paintings and multi-layered paper installations, from intricate photographs to bold juxtapositions of painting and digital animation. Trained as a miniaturist at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander recasts the conventions of this centuries-old tradition and challenges notions about the division of art and craft.

While traversing cultural, geographic, and psychological boundaries and combining seemingly disparate formal elements, she skillfully expresses a respect for the distinctiveness of the cultures she explores. The results are painstakingly detailed drawings and vibrantly-hued paintings that reveal themselves over time and reflect profoundly on the relationship between the present and the past and the richness of multicultural identities. In other projects, Sikander experiments with digital media to uproot the unity of her own miniatures and reposition their fragments with graceful movements of camera-work. This artist’s constant rethinking of media and visual sources makes her work a fluid, elaborately rendered commentary on diasporic experiences and our ever-changing world.

Shahzia Sikander received a B.F.A. (1992) from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, and an M.F.A. (1995) from the Rhode Island School of Design. She was a fellow of the Glassell School of Art’s Core Program in Houston (1995-1997) and an artist-in-residence at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles (2005). Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions at such national and international venues as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Canada, the Venice Biennale 2005, and the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.

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