By Nash Baker, AramcoWorld
Using a single light suspend-ed from the ceiling to shine through a laser-cut sculpture in wood that is painted black, Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha transforms the Rice Art Gallery in Houston into an allusion to Islamic sacred spaces where geometric ornamentation and patterns themselves allude to the infinity of creation. The artwork was inspired, Agha says, by her visit to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, where the Nasrid palace’s all-encompassing beauty of interlacing designs prompted re-flection upon her own childhood in Lahore, Pakistan, where culture barred her and other women from the creativity and community of the mosque—an experience she says led to “complex expressions of both wonder and the feelings of exclusion.”
Working from these contradictory emotions, Intersections creates a contemplative space, open to all, that repeats a symmetrical pattern she designed by combining and adapting decorative elements of the Alhambra. As the geometry becomes shadows, it covers not only surfaces, but visitors them-selves, dissolving boundaries and allowing the pattern itself to change with each movement.
In 2014 Intersections won Art-Prize’s Public Vote Grand Prize and split its Juried Grand Prize. Her current exhibit, Walking with My Mother’s Shadow, is on view at Aicon Gallery, New York, through November 26, www.anilaagha.com
Nash Baker is a Houston-based freelance photographer who has documented installations in the Rice Gallery since 2007. www.nashbaker.com.