Pakistani, 21st century, female.
Active in Lahore, Pakistan, and Seattle, Washington.
Born in Pakistan.
Miniatures and woodworker.
Women’s issues and refugees.
Acting against her family’s wishes, Humaira Abid attended the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, and then decided to master the traditionally male-dominated medium of woodworking. During her studies, she also received a double minor in miniature paintings and continued to push the envelopes of both woodworking and miniature painting through combining the two practices. For her exhibitions it is especially important that the two mediums are married together in order to create a cohesive narrative.
In 2017–2018, Abid had a solo exhibition at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington titled Searching for Home. This exhibition immediately transported viewers outside their comfort zones. Upon entering the room the viewer was confronted with a barbed wire fence painstakingly carved from wood. Hanging from the wooden barbed wire was a pair of underwear, again carved from wood, and splotched with red so as to appear stained with blood. Against the other wall was a series of miniature portraits, all of real children from various refugee camps; the wall is littered with bullet holes. Other works displayed in the show included pieces of luggage, baby pacifiers, a breast pump, and a swing, all meticulously carved from wood and often stained with red spots. Each work brings to the forefront the difficult imagery that often accompanies the journey of the refugee and, more specifically, the female refugee.
Abid carries with her a strong belief that art can and should be used as a tool to discuss difficult topics that are often unfortunately avoided and ignored. These subjects include menstruation, miscarriage, and oppression, all issues that women throughout the world can relate to and should feel comfortable discussing openly. These topics were broached in her Red series, completed after having experienced multiple miscarriages herself. Capturing her experience visually is the piece titled Miscarriage, consisting of a row of nine carved wood faucets, one for each month of pregnancy; falling from the third one is a single drop stained red.
For each series, Abid spends a significant amount of time honing an idea; she completes initial sketches, researches, and collects reference materials for correct dimensions. She then chooses the type of wood that will represent the piece in the correct way. If she discovers that she does not have a tool to create a desired effect, she will make one. Through her attention to detail, each piece produced is an uncanny representation of a real object.
The subject matter and methodology of Abid’s work make it apparent that, as an artist, Abid thrives on a challenge. Her work continues to revolve around the oppression experienced by women in Saudi Arabia.
2012, Past and Present, Zahoor ul Akhlaque Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan
2013, Women’s Work: Culture and the Feminine, ArtXchange Gallery, Seattle
2015, ‘Knock on Wood’ Biennial at Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
2017, NW ART NOW, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
2017, WHY WOOD: Contemporary Practices in Timeless Material Wood, SOFAEXPO, Chicago
2009, LULLABY, Rohtas Il, Lahore, Pakistan
2015, RED, Khaas Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan
2016, The Dressing Room, START Saatchi Gallery, London
2017, Searching for Home, Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
- Abid, Humaira: Humaira Abid, http://www.humaira.com.pk, the artist’s website: profile, works, media, blog (accessed 15 Jan 2017).
- Kazmi, Laila: ‘With knives and hammers, Pakistani sculptor chisels away at taboos for women’, PBS News Hour, 18 July 2014, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/with-knives-and-hammers-pakistani-sculptor-chisels-away-at-taboos-for-women.
- Pollman, Lisa: ‘Visualising taboo: Emerging Pakistani sculptor Humaira Abid – interview’, Art Radar, 7 April 2015, http://artradarjournal.com/2015/07/04/emerging-pakistani-sculptor-humaira-abid-interview/.
- Davis, Brangien: ‘Seattle artist Humaira Abid examines a crisis through a feminist lens’, Crosscut, 28 Sept 2017, http://crosscut.com/2017/09/humaira-abid-sculpture-refugee-feminist-immigration-art/.
- Kunimatsu, Susan: ‘Abid’s “Searching for Home” Reveals the Plight of Refugee Women and Children’, International Examiner, 4 Nov 2017, http://www.iexaminer.org/2017/11/abids-searching-for-home-reveals-the-plight-of-refugee-women-and-children/.