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Threads of Belonging: The Migrant Experience in Material Expression

Winter Garden Gallery


Watch an interview with artist Anila Quayyum Agha who discusses her exhibition on view in the Winter Garden Gallery.

Discover artwork in the Winter Garden Gallery by visual artist, Anila Quayyum Agha, who experiments with materials and geometric patterns to explore the entwined relationships between gender, culture, and religion that inform the migrant experience.

“Having lived on the boundaries between the different faiths of Islam and Christianity, and in cultures of Pakistan and the USA, my art is deeply influenced by the simultaneous sense of alienation and transience that informs the migrant experience. This consciousness of knowing what is markedly different about the human experience also bears the gift of knowing its core commonalities. It is these tensions and contradictions that I try to embody in my artwork. Using a variety of media, from large sculptural installations to embroidered drawings, I explore the deeply entwined political relationships between gender, culture, religion, labor, and social codes.

In my work I have used combinations of textile processes such as embroidery, wax, dyes, and silk-screen printing along with sculptural methodologies to reveal and question the gendering of textile work as inherently domesticated and excluded from being considered an art form. My experiences in my native country and as an immigrant here in the United States are woven into my work, which redefine and rewrite women’s handiwork as a poignant form of creative expression. Using embroidery as a drawing medium I reveal the multiple layers that result from the interaction of concept and process and bridge the gap between modern materials and historical patterns of traditional oppression and domestic servitude.

The conceptual ambiguity of the resulting patterns creates an interactive experience in which the onlooker’s subjective experiences of alienation and belonging become part of the piece and its identity.”

-Anila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha (b. 1965) is internationally recognized for her award-winning large-scale installations that use light, shadow and pattern to create inclusive, immersive & shared experiences. Exhibitions include national museums like Amon Carter Museum in Texas to international museums like National Sculpture Museum, Valladolid, Spain, and the Chimei Museum, Taiwan. Agha’s work has been shown at international Art Fairs like Masterpiece-London, Delhi Art-Fair, Abu Dhabi Art-Fair and the Armory. Major awards include the 2019 Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the 2021 SARF (Smithsonian Artist Fellowship). In 2019, Agha’s work was included in She Persists at the Venice Biennale.


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