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Biography

Anila Quayyum Agha is a Pakistani-American artist who works in a cross-disciplinary fashion with mixed media. She creates artwork that explores global politics, cultural multiplicity, mass media, and social and gender roles in our current cultural and global scenario. As a result, her artwork is conceptually challenging, producing complicated weaves of thought, artistic action and social experience.

 

Agha is perhaps best known for her immersive, large-scale light installations in which she laser-cuts elaborate patterns into three-dimensional cubes. Suspended and lit from within, the cubes cast lace-like, floor-to-ceiling shadows that completely transform the surrounding environment, alluding to the richly ornamented public spaces such as mosques that Agha was excluded from as a female growing up in Lahore.

 

In addition to her suspended light installations, Agha also creates wall-mounted sculptural works, including her Flowers series (2018) that explores love and loss inspired by the mixed emotions she experienced following her son’s wedding and mother’s passing, events that happened in the same year. Although these works may appear decorative, they are imbued with meaning, from the floral patterns that express the beauty and femininity of her mother to the metallic threads commonly used for wedding dresses in Pakistan. The visual elements collectively amplify the interplay between the matrimonial and the funereal, and by extension, the larger cycle of life.

 

To produce these elaborate works, Agha laser-cuts vibrantly hued encaustic paper with intricate patterns and adorns them with light-reflecting embroidery and beads. These exquisitely detailed drawings are framed within shadow boxes, allowing light to pass through the cut-outs and cast patterned shadows in a manner similar to her large-scale light installations. The framing and shadows allow these works to transcend their two-dimensionality.

 

Anila Quayyum Agha received a BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore, and an MFA from the University of North Texas. Agha resides in Indianapolis, serving as associate professor at Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University. Agha’s work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions including at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; National Sculpture Museum, Valladolid, Spain; Dallas Contemporary Art Museum, Texas; Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio; Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida.

 
Major awards include the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, ArtPrize (Juried and Public Vote Grand Prize 2014), Creative Renewal Fellowship and DeHaan Artist of Distinction (Indy Arts Council), Research Scholar Award (Indiana University), Schiele Prize (Cincinnati Art Museum) and the 2019 Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. For the 2019 Venice Biennale, Agha was included in the collateral event She Persists. Her work has been collected by institutions and private collectors nationally and internationally.

 

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, 1965 | Lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana

Columbia, South Carolina
Museum Exhibition
Columbia, South Carolina
ANILA AGHA AT THE COLUMBIA MUSEUM OF ART

Anila Agha's work is on view at the Columbia Museum of Art from February 19 to May 29, 2022.

Auburn, Alabama
Museum Exhibition
Auburn, Alabama
ANILA AGHA AT THE JULE COLLINS SMITH MUSEUM OF FINE ART

Anila Agha's work is on view at The Jule Collins Smith Museum Of Fine Art, from October 8, 2021 to January 2, 2022

Fort Worth, Texas
News
Fort Worth, Texas
ANILA AGHA AT THE AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Anila Agha at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art from September 25, 2021–January 9, 2022.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Exhibition
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Anila Quayyum Agha’s work on view in Light Upon Light: Light Art Since the 1960s

Anila Quayyum Agha’s light installation Hidden Diamond–Saffron (2019) is on view alongside work by Lucio Fontana, Urs Fischer, James Turrell, Ahmed Mater and Yayoi Kusama in Light Upon Light: Light Art Since the 1960s. The exhibition of 30 light works and new commissions is curated by Susan Davidson, former senior curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The show, which runs through June 12, is part of Noor Riyadh, an annual arts festival in Riyadh. Click here for more information.

Vermont
Museum Exhibition
Vermont
Anila Quayyam Agha at Burlington City Arts

Anila Quayyam Agha’s work is on view in Transcendent: Spirituality in Contemporary Art.

Toledo, Ohio
Museum Exhibition
Toledo, Ohio
Anila Quayyum Agha at the Toledo Museum of Art

Anila Quayyum Agha's work will be on view in Between Light and Shadow at the Toledo Museum of Art. 

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