Artist Statement

I make art that celebrates my cultural heritage and experiences.

I am a queer Afghan American visual artist, educator, and graphic designer. My family left Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded in 1979. Since then, I have stayed connected to my Afghan culture through my family, community, and the media. In the press, particularly after 9/11, Afghan and Muslim people are shown only in connection to violence and war. My earlier works focus on disrupting these inauthentic depictions. I want to present the richness and diversity of my Central Asian culture and I want to speak of my lived experiences.

Recently, Buddhist concepts such as impermanence, mindfulness, and meditation are a relief to me. These concepts are integrated in my daily life and art practice.

At the start of the pandemic, during the first lockdown, I asked myself to go outside for walks and try to be present. As I walked through my neighborhood, I noticed eerie scenes of cherry blossoms floating in the empty city streets set to the sound of ambulance sirens. I collected pocketfuls of blossoms and drew them. Each blossom was unique and symbolized a fleeting moment in time.

I started taking selfies and drawing myself also. I realized humans are like blossoms. Each of us is unique and exist for a moment in time as well.

Drawing is linked to my mediation practice. I draw studies at home to move from my thoughts to the physical world. I enjoy coming back to this space where I can breathe, reflect, and recharge.

In my current artwork, I transfer my drawings to woodblocks, carve them, and print multiple impressions. By printing the blocks many times, I am able to experiment with different colors, textures, and orientations. These prints are less precious than the original drawings, I can cut them and paste them together in new layouts. I can draw and write on them. The collages become active spaces of experimentation and expression.

My visual production is based in the research, study, and practice of various printmaking and book arts processes. In my research of the origins of different techniques, I found that many methods are tied to global histories of communication and dissemination of information. These methods naturally offer limitless possibilities for me to make my socially engaged work and tell the stories that are important to me. I am drawn to these methods’ possibilities for chance, repetition, multiplicity, improvisation, and collaboration. I can generate artwork in nuanced ways. I am also drawn to their tangibility in the digital age.