I am a queer Afghan American visual artist, educator, and graphic designer. I make multidisciplinary art that celebrates my cultural heritage and experiences. My family left Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded in 1979. Since then, I have stayed connected to my Afghan culture through my family, community, and the media. In the media, particularly after 9/11, Afghan and Muslim people are shown only in connection to violence and war. I want to present the richness and diversity of my Central Asian culture. I hope to challenge the one-dimensional representation of Afghan and Muslim people that fuels today’s atmosphere of racism and xenophobia.
In my artwork, I address prejudice and offer something new—something beyond an agenda for war. In my earlier work, I reprinted and altered newspaper clippings reporting on The War on Terror. By appropriating images and text, I was able to insert my voice and complicate the published story. I gradually shifted my focus from media critique to researching the history and literature of my native region. This region was known as Persia until the 20th century and included Afghanistan, Iran, and Tajikistan among other modern countries. In 2013 I helped produce a translated limited-edition artist’s book of poems to celebrate women poets from this region. This project brought together a diverse community of artists and writers from different Central Asian diasporas through our programming.
My visual production is based in the research, study, and practice of various printmaking and book arts processes. In my research of the origins of different techniques, I found that many methods are tied to global histories of communication and dissemination of information. These methods naturally offer limitless possibilities for me to make my socially engaged work and tell the stories that are important to me. I am drawn to these methods’ possibilities for chance, repetition, multiplicity, improvisation and collaboration. I can generate artwork in nuanced ways. I am also drawn to these methods’ materiality in the digital age.