Originally from Pakistan, Humaira Abid is a Seattle-based artist specializing in sculpture and miniature painting. Her work has been featured in exhibitions throughout Europe and the Middle East, as well as in exhibitions at ArtXchange, Tacoma Art Museum, and Kirkland Art Center. Her first solo museum exhibition, Searching for Home, is currently on view at Bellevue Arts Museum through March 25, 2018.
On November 18, Humaira will lead “Building Your Audience as an Artist” at Auburn Valley Creative Arts. I recently caught up with her to learn more about her work and her experience in the Seattle arts community.
What inspired you to pursue sculpture and to work with wood specifically?
When I was in art school, sculpture was the only subject the teachers did not ask students to take as their major. It’s a difficult medium, especially in Pakistan because three dimensional art is controversial, and for women it’s considered even more challenging because it’s physically demanding. By the time I was deciding what to take as my major, everybody was warning me not to take sculpture, so I decided to take that as a challenge and see what was so tough about it.
I also felt there were not many women working in sculpture, especially in the medium of wood. It was (and still is) very male-dominated, and even when I started traveling and was exposed to wood sculpture in many parts of the world, I noticed there was a lack of women’s voices, so I decided to pursue wood as my main medium and bring a woman’s point of view to that medium.
Your solo exhibition, Searching for Home, is currently on view at Bellevue Arts Museum. What inspired you to create this exhibition?
I grew up hearing stories of migration. My parents were born in India and moved to Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947. Although they were very young at the time, they heard stories about it from their parents and shared those stories with me. Up until 2013, Pakistan was the top country in the world (still in top five) for taking maximum number of refugees, and when I was growing up I saw a lot of Afghan refugees struggling to make their home again in Pakistan.
I moved to the US 10 years ago, and I remember how after a few years I started to feel that this was my home, but whenever I was visiting Pakistan, everybody would ask me, “Are you going home?” The concept of home was in my mind from the beginning, and it started a dialogue of what is home? What’s the concept of home? For some people, it is probably where you are born, but for a lot of people it may be where you feel you belong, especially with the current situation in the world, where a lot of people migrate, the refugee crisis, and the current US policy.
What are some of your favorite things about Seattle’s art community?
All of the support available for artists and how everybody welcomes new artists is pretty amazing. Most people in Pakistan don’t think art is a profession, and there’s very little support for artists, even in the private sector. When I moved to the US, I was impressed to see organizations supporting artists like Artist Trust, 4Culture, and the Office of Arts and Culture. I was very excited when I first got a grant from 4Culture because it allowed me to focus more on experimentation and not worry too much about the cost of the materials – later I received more grants including GAP and Fellowship from Artist Trust, all of that support has helped me push the boundaries of my work.
What inspired you to lead Artist Trust’s “Building Your Audience as an Artist” workshop?
I believe in giving back to the community, sharing my passion and passing on what I have learned through challenges and my experience. If I know anything I’m very happy to share it, and whenever there’s an opportunity that I feel I can help other artists and the community, I get excited.
Join Humaira for “Building Your Audience as an Artist” at Auburn Valley Creative Arts on Saturday, November 18. Tickets and information about the workshop can be found here.
Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She’s obsessed with libraries, art and radio, and aspires toward a future career in nonprofit communications and/or arts administration.