Anila Quayyum Agha (American b. Pakistan, 1965) is one of my favorite contemporary artists. The Grand Rapids Art Museum has two of her paper works and I adore them.
Left: Intersections Teal Right: Intersections Gold
Anila Quayyum Agha
2016 Embroidery and encaustic on laser cut paper
I was ecstatic when I learned her 2014 ArtPrize winning installation Intersections (2013) was coming back to the GRAM. I missed seeing the piece in 2014 and wasn't going to let that happen again.
Intersections is a suspended wooden cube (6.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 ft.) with a light bulb in the center. Each piece of wood is laser cut into patterns, allowing the light to shine through. The illuminated cube covers an entire second floor gallery at GRAM with stunning, lace-like shadows rooted in Islamic artistic tradition. The pattern on the ground directly under the cube resembles an intricately woven prayer rug.
Other patterns of Intersections are particularly drawing on the architectural masterpiece Alhambra.
Agha's masterful use of line, light and shadow in her installation work envelops the viewer and makes them part of the installation when they walk through the shadows. Intersections transports the viewer to a place so contemplative and calming that they almost feel like a disturbance to the space.
I am so grateful to have been able to experience this work and if you are able to see it I urge you to do so. It is at GRAM from May 19 - August 26, 2018. You can find the artist on the web here.