Artist Bio & Statement
Asma is a Pakistani-born American artist and a mother of four living in Ellicott City, Maryland. After receiving her BA from West Virginia University in Education, she began experimenting with clay in classes offered at local community colleges. This introduction became a lifelong commitment, and she is now a Master’s student in Ceramics at Hood College (Frederick, Maryland). Dedication to working with the community has also become a strong part of Asma’s artwork. During monthly sessions at local faith-based communities, she provides a safe space for women in the community to engage with art.
There are elements at play that can highlight or cover certain aspects of ourselves. Living in a Western society where being seen is akin to having success, a Muslim woman has to decide what to reveal and what remains behind a covering. Traditionally, women in our societies use fabric, wood, metal, and stone to create barriers and establish limitations over unwanted intrusions. These come in the form of decorative hijabs and jaali patterns. Social media in this contemporary era has also taken our most personal spaces and exposed them to the world. Reestablishing boundaries while trying to be seen and heard is my challenge as a Muslim woman.
I play with light and shadow in my work and use fabric, jewels, and high-temperature wire to convey the contrast between how I want to be perceived and how the society I live in sees me. Traditional sub-continental jaali is intricate perforated holes in walls or windows, separating space within or outside, casting detailed shadows, and affecting the atmosphere. I am exploring the concept of public and private through these perforated holes. Following this might lead the viewer to look further, while a beautiful wire structure hinders and distracts the viewer simultaneously. Glaze highlights parts of my work, while black wash reveals subtle biomorphic patterns. Forced and intentional boundaries are exposed with black lines, tessellating stamp patterns, and faded geometric patterns, symbolizing the ongoing struggle to find balance in private and public. Geometric patterns represent the unity of a diverse community. Traditional shapes are stretched and pulled out to fit the needs of the modern heterogeneous culture. Utilitarian pieces are the common ground shared in our relationships and hold our shared values as people.
“Boundaries” expresses my struggle with what the world around me sees of me. The objective is to have control over our bodies, whether it's emotional, physical, or visible clothing options.