Artist Statement - Plantae Obscure
These sculptural works are inspired by delightful freaks of nature, bringing awareness to their plight, but also celebrating the bizarre beauty of the many species we are losing. I was profoundly struck by the utter sci-fi peculiarity of these natural hidden worlds I once saw through a glass bottom boat in Polynesia. Due to ecological trauma, these imaginative floras are disappearing from the underwaters, disrupting ecosystems as they go. Because of climate change, the ocean as a system is at risk, struggling to keep pace with human caused conditions.
The sculptural forms intermingle what could exist through caustic mutation or evolve on other planets, colonized if we deplete our own resources. These science fiction-like growths combine plant, mineral, metal and human representations depicting the existence of other-worldly creatures, beauty molting out of hardened places.
In a way, this fantastical fluid transformation out of rigid materials symbolizes my own story. In my earlier work, my focus was painting. As a Pakistani born American artist, pegged as a product of my cultural background, I felt pressure to represent the “east meets west” motif in these paintings. This meant restricting myself to the accepted. The label strengthened in my collaboration with my father – an unlikely artist who was also a top neonatal specialist. The experimentation and the creative bond formed was euphoric, and the resulting work a pinnacle. After my father passed, I fell to a point that I had nothing to lose except my inhibitions. And oddly, this allowed me the freedom to unmask who I really was as an artist. Taking an extended period to experiment with new materials, I found porcelain to be my primary medium due to its luminous characteristic, adding an element of hope to the despondency of my subject. I subscribe to the Bauhaus sensibility of combining intense relationship with the process of craft and Fine Art. Each work draws on a hard-earned expertise in the techniques of slab building, throwing, hand sculpting, metallurgy and alchemy. Mystical tension culminates from the unlikely organic mix of media combined with a nonconventional merging of artistries and a sense of movement constantly envisioned from years of professional video development. Methods used in other cultures and eras meld with the discipline of formal art training. All of which conspire to bring these aquatic sculptures to life.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been experimenting with materials and mediums. My education started in studying fashion design in London, where my interest was consumed primarily in mixing and experimenting with unusual fabric textures, patterns and forms. I later earned an MFA from Pratt Institute in New York with a concentration in painting and a minor in computer graphics and special effects. I gravitated toward water-media, making my own pigments using semi-precious minerals applied on unconventional surfaces interjecting Kufic Arabic calligraphy. Moving on, I began to collaborate with my father, who was a physician by trade, but a prolific photographer by passion. As Pakistani Americans, we were an odd duo that you definitely don’t see much, but it was an exciting exploration for us. He was a huge influence and source of support in my growth and development as an artist. We developed a collection of stylized botanicals together, mixing water-media and photography that catered well to hotel, restaurant and luxury interior design markets. My most recent medium of interest is porcelain. This time, in my continued exploration of plant life and mixing unconventional materials, I’ve interjected my interest in science fiction. Porcelain allows me to create works that can cast interesting shadows and take on different personalities from a variety of angles. Contemporary artists that have influenced me include Tiffany Bozic in her collection of illustration and paintings: “Drawn by Instinct” and Noriko Kuresumi’s effortlessly organic and voluptuous ceramic forms.