Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha has installed her impressive shadow sculpture Intersections at Rice Gallery. Inspired in part by her interpretation of patterns and images found in Islamic temples, the laser-cut 6.5′ square wood cube is illuminated from the inside by a blinding 600-watt light bulb that casts a dizzying shadow throughout the gallery. The piece becomes experiential as viewers who move through the space have the shadows cast on their bodies, incorporating themselves into the artwork. From Rice Gallery:
Intersections is inspired by Agha’s visit to the Alhambra, an Islamic palace originally built in 889 in Granada, Spain. Struck by the grandeur of the space, Agha reflected upon her childhood in Lahore, Pakistan where culture dictated that women were excluded from the mosque, a place of creativity and community, and instead prayed at home. As she explains, “To my amazement [I] discovered the complex expressions of both wonder and exclusion that have been my experience while growing up.” Agha translates these contradictory feelings into Intersections, a contemplative space of her own making that is open to all.
While we’ve shared photos of this piece before, Angela and Mark Walley of Walley Films were invited to do this insightful profile of Agha and her ArtPrize-winning installation, providing a deeper and immersive treatment than images alone. Intersections will be on view at Rice Gallery through December 6, 2015.
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Created by mixed media artist Anila Quayyum Agha, this elaborately carved cube with an embedded light source projects a dazzling pattern of shadows onto the surrounding gallery walls. Titled Intersections, the installation is made from large panels of laser-cut wood meant to emulate the geometrical patters found in Islamic sacred spaces. Agha shares:
The Intersections project takes the seminal experience of exclusion as a woman from a space of community and creativity such as a Mosque and translates the complex expressions of both wonder and exclusion that have been my experience while growing up in Pakistan. The wooden frieze emulates a pattern from the Alhambra, which was poised at the intersection of history, culture and art and was a place where Islamic and Western discourses, met and co-existed in harmony and served as a testament to the symbiosis of difference. I have given substance to this mutualism with the installation project exploring the binaries of public and private, light and shadow, and static and dynamic. This installation project relies on the purity and inner symmetry of geometric design, the interpretation of the cast shadows and the viewer’s presence with in a public space.
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