UNM Art Museum Opens Ornate ‘Mysterious Inner Worlds’ Exhibit

In her first solo exhibition in New Mexico, Anila Quayyum Agha began showing “Mysterious Inner Worlds” on Friday, February 18 at the University of New Mexico Museum of Art. With a unique combination of Islamic architecture and personal concepts on models of sacred spaces, the exhibition includes four sculptures that are all activated by light.

The installation is comprised of works of paper, beads, metal and light, with Agha’s creations guided by traditional Pakistani art and designed to convey feelings associated with her experiences with religion, gender, culture and danger, according to the UNMAM gallery guide.

Many of the pieces use sewing techniques taught by her mother as well as beads and papers from Pakistan, according to gallery guide UNMAM. UNMAM website says Agha draws on her experiences as a woman and an immigrant; she moved from Pakistan to the United States in 2001.

“Agha’s approach to her two-dimensional work stems from her childhood in Pakistan as well as her training as an artist. Agha’s mother taught her to sew when she was five,” reads the gallery guide.

Agha’s work ranges from “monumental installations to intricate embroidered designs”, according to the UNMAM website. The website states that she studies textile design and “treats the designs like textiles by embroidering paper with thread and beads from her native Pakistan.”

“Agha’s work more broadly addresses the dynamic and contradictory relationships between immigrant experiences as well as the intersectionality of gender, religious, labor and social codes,” the UNMAM website states.

The largest body of work, “Intersections”, is a premium laser cut steel light cage. It casts intricate shadows across the gallery’s largest room, creating an interactive opening piece and preparing viewers for a series of 10 additional pieces.

Other works are meant to evoke feelings of inherent belonging despite socio-economic exclusion, according to gallery guide UNMAM. “Mysterious inner world (gold)represents the repressed and often unrecognized resilience of women in Pakistani society.

“While the materials in her pieces often seem fragile, Agha describes them as ‘resilient, hardy, even stubborn’, serving as a symbol for women in repressive societies,” reads the gallery’s guide.

The exhibition will be presented at UNMAM until July 2.

Natalie Jude is the culture editor of the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @natalaroni

Mildred D. Field