Artist Research Project- Jennifer's Group
I chose to research Shazia Sikander because I've recently been aquainted with her work and I really like what I've seen. She is definitely a new favorite artist of mine, an inspiration for sure.
Sikander paints miniature pictures, in the style of indian and persian miniature paintings, on hand-made paper that she soaks in tea to 'age' it a little. She also has painted the complete opposite scale of these minis, large murals, and more recently, she has used mixed-media techniques. She mixes her own paints from powder and vegetable dyes as well. When she began to learn this old tradition, it was considered a dead art. Perhaps it was, as she infuses her work with a new twist to the old, has taken a dead form and made it into something else. Sikander does this by using imagery from her life and modern situations, and by blending two different painting traditions, Pakistani and Indian.
She also deals with issues of cultural identity in her images. She has said that she aspires to transcend boundaries in her work, which I would say it definitely does. Cultural, gender, religious tradtions are all challenged in her pictures. It's funny how when looking at some of them, I don't immediately see how they're any different from other miniature paintings of the syle, but them I look closer and see things happening that have never occured in pictures like this before. And she has mixed both Muslim imagry as well as Hindi into a nice blend of the two.
I compare Sikander to Shirin Neshat because they are both women from Muslim, Middle-Eastern backgrounds who include this in their work, and because they both aim to challenge the current status quo through their art. They are also both exiles. Not in a politcal way, but they both have lived in the U.S.A for quite a while now, and are estranged from their homeland, home culture, their roots.
I love the itty bitty tiny details in her paintings. And I love her use of a long-held traditional practice in new and scandalous ways. I love the whimsy in some of them, the subtle humor,and the beauty of color and compositon. I will most surely recommend her to other people, and as I said, she is a major influence in my creative ideas right now.