Hamra Abbas

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Born 1976 in Kuwait. Lives and works in Cambridge, MA.

Raised in Pakistan, Hamra Abbas was formally trained in the Indo-Persian tradition of miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore. In her practice, Abbas departs from this historic tradition by merging it with contemporary media such as installation and performance. Throughout her career, she has explored the ways in which faith, ritual, and tradition manifest themselves physically. In her newest series, Kaaba Pictures, Abbas investigates personal and collective expressions of faith surrounding the Kaaba, a black-cloaked, granite cube sacred to Islam. The Kaaba is also at the center of a global consumer industry, which capitalizes on the significance of the site to create thousands of mass-produced objects emblazoned with images of the iconic structure. Fascinated by the many colors and forms of these ubiquitous commodities and the roles they play in private devotion, Abbas began a long process of recreating the fraught trinkets. She produced large-scale photographs of paintings she made after Kaaba miniatures. For the artist, each translation across media reveals new information, and allows for tensions to emerge between public and private devotion, as well as between the idealized image and the everyday experience. http://www.decordova.org/hamra-abba

Hamra Abbas’ works draws upon widely accepted traditions, often in a playful manner. By appropriating culturally loaded imagery and iconography, and transforming them into new works that can be experienced spatially and temporally, she creates new platforms from which to view notions of cultural ownership, tradition, exchange and power. Hamra Abbas is the 2011 winner of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, she was awarded a Jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial 9: Provisions for the Future. Her work is included in Aluminium, 4th International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Baku... (http://art.state.gov/ArtistDetail.aspx?id=102780)
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Jennifer Solow

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