Shahzia Sikander (pictured above by David Adams), a Pakistani-American artist, has been named a member of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. She is among the 25 people who will receive $500,000 in â€œno strings attachedâ€ support over the next five years.
â€œSelection for a MacArthur Fellowship is the culmination of an intensive review of the creative efforts and promise of each Fellow. Our call comes as a complete surprise and offers the new Fellows the gift of time and an unfettered opportunity to reflect, explore, and create,â€ said MacArthur President, Jonathan Fanton.
Sikanderâ€™s art ranges from intimate watercolors to mural-scale wall paintings and multi-layered paper installations, from intricate photographs to bold juxtapositions of painting and digital animation. Trained as a miniaturist at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander recasts the conventions of this centuries-old tradition and challenges notions about the division of art and craft.
While traversing cultural, geographic, and psychological boundaries and combining seemingly disparate formal elements, she skillfully expresses a respect for the distinctiveness of the cultures she explores. The results are painstakingly detailed drawings and vibrantly-hued paintings that reveal themselves over time and reflect profoundly on the relationship between the present and the past and the richness of multicultural identities. In other projects, Sikander experiments with digital media to uproot the unity of her own miniatures and reposition their fragments with graceful movements of camera-work. This artistâ€™s constant rethinking of media and visual sources makes her work a fluid, elaborately rendered commentary on diasporic experiences and our ever-changing world.