Zarina Hashmi: Celebrating the Iconic Minimalist Artist and Printmaker

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July 16, 2023 — Honoured by Google Doodle in the US and across the globe, Zarina Hashmi’s 86th birth anniversary is commemorated, paying tribute to her profound impact on the art world. Zarina, a late Indian American artist and printmaker, achieved global recognition for her contributions to the minimalist art movement, leaving an indelible mark on the artistic landscape.

Born on July 16, 1937, in the town of Aligarh, India, Zarina’s life took a momentous turn during the tumultuous partition of India in 1947. Her family was uprooted, and they were compelled to resettle in Karachi, Pakistan. This experience of displacement would significantly influence her artistic journey, as her works would come to explore themes of home, borders, memory, and the human experience of displacement.

In her early twenties, Zarina’s life further blossomed as she married a foreign service diplomat, leading her on a journey that traversed various corners of the world. Her travels exposed her to diverse cultures, artistic influences, and experiences. During her sojourns in Bangkok, Paris, and Japan, Zarina immersed herself in the world of printmaking, delving into art movements like modernism and abstraction.

Ultimately, Zarina found her creative haven in New York City, where she settled in 1977. In the bustling artistic hub of the city, she became an ardent advocate for women and artists of color. She became a member of the Heresies Collective, a feminist publication that ardently explored the intersections of art, politics, and social justice.

Zarina’s passion for promoting equal educational opportunities for female artists found expression in her involvement with the New York Feminist Art Institute, where she taught and championed the rights of female artists to thrive in the art world. As a trailblazing curator, she co-curated the influential exhibition “Dialectics of Isolation: An Exhibition of Third World Women Artists of the United States” at A.I.R. Gallery in 1980. The exhibition became a platform for diverse artists, especially female artists of color, to showcase their talents.

The heart of Zarina’s artistic expression lay in her captivating woodcuts and intaglio prints. Her works masterfully blended semi-abstract representations of houses and cities she had lived in, infused with geometric elements and inscriptions in her native Urdu. Drawing inspiration from Islamic art, her creations spoke volumes about her personal journey of self-discovery and the shared human experience of belonging and longing for a place to call home.

Today, Zarina’s art continues to enthrall art enthusiasts across the globe. Her pieces have found a home in prestigious galleries such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. Her artistic legacy remains an everlasting source of contemplation and inspiration, transcending borders and bridging cultures.

ILA celebrates Zarina Hashmi’s 86th birth anniversary, her minimalist art continues to resonate, reminding us of the universal human yearning for a sense of belonging, no matter where we come from. Her contributions to the art world and her dedication to empowering marginalized artists have left an enduring mark on the canvas of history.

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