June 20, 2021


art requires creative

Believe in Your Intestine: Multidisciplinary Artist Zehra Khan Embraces the Spontaneous

6 min read

Zehra Khan, “I Let The Fur Develop Out,” acrylic paint on self, 2010

“I focus on the body as aspect, and aside, of the ecosystem. While I try out to combine with the environment, the conditions of becoming human limit me.” — Zehra Khan

I was introduced to Zehra Khan’s artwork prior to the lockdown in 2020, at “Fakeries,” her solo exhibition at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Chicago. I was taken with the gilded and fairytale-like yet humorous and available mother nature of her incredibly hot glue and gold leaf wall tapestries. I was also amazed with a looking at event programmed in conjunction with Khan’s exhibition, “Praxis + Liberation, a reading,” developed by Char Lee, as a conversation about exercise, which is the connective tissue of their shared perform. Newcity spoke to Khan about this multidimensionality, which is a thoughtful reflection of a rich, materials-driven, and generous tactic to a restless studio exercise.

“Golden Offender,” Zehra Khan, acrylic paint on sizzling glue, 24 inches x 23 inches, 2019.

Where by did you devote your formative years? How extended have you been based mostly in Chicago? How does possibly advise the work you make, or not?

I was born in Indonesia in 1983. My Pakistani father was performing as an architect, and my mom was a diplomat from Idaho. Transferring for my parents’ professions led us to Paris for seven many years, Switzerland for 3, ahead of going to Lexington, Massachusetts at age eleven.

I went to Skidmore University, graduated in 2004. Then I received my MFA from the Massachusetts College or university of Art & Style in 2009, at a reduced-residency plan at the High-quality Arts Function Heart in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Following graduating, I moved to Provincetown entire-time for ten years, wherever I made artwork and labored odd careers primarily as an artist assistant, which is what I continue to do.

I enjoy attending art residencies and have been to a dozen or so. In 2018 I attended an artwork residency at Ox-Bow, which introduced me to a lot of Chicago artists. They convinced me it was doable to are living in the metropolis and uncover an creative group. I moved to Chicago a few months later.

Jaclyn Jacunski was my studio mate, which has sparked a friendship and creative dialogue.

I initially related to Chicago by conference Julia Klein at a residency at the Vermont Studio Middle in 2012. (Julia Klein established Soberscove Press in 2009, a Chicago-primarily based impartial push that publishes guides about artwork and tradition.) Julia volunteered to be a performer in a task I was performing on at the time, “Johnny Flea and his Merry Maniacs Current The Circus,” and afterwards I created a children’s guide with her publishing organization, Soberscove Push, with the reserve “A Sunny Working day for Bouquets.”

What are your existing interests? Or what are you searching at, examining, smelling, ingesting, or listening to that you are energized about? How is this informing your function?

I’m frequently watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Fascinated by the presentation of gender. I am incredibly fascinated in what would make a lady or what is valued as feminine… As RuPaul claims, “We are all born naked and the relaxation is drag.”

Painting on close friends produces a social and collaborative aspect to building art. I wanted to split out of my solitary painting apply and interact with individuals in a different way in my studio. I generally doodled and drew on myself and buddies as a way to enjoy and be informal, and as an act of belief and affection.

Body-portray puts quick constraints on the painting session: perform rapid, respond to the requires of the painted man or woman or surroundings, and embrace the spontaneous. These are reminders to rely on my intestine, and the method informs my function in every single medium.

Animals evoke fairytales, fables, spiritual deities and ceremonies. Working with animals as protagonists allows for the viewer to distance themselves. My creatures act like humans, with the identical habits and foibles. Rats grew to become a individual favorite subject due to the fact of the strong response they cause in the viewer. Looking at a single creature as opposed to a swarm.

What components do you operate with?

I like to use resources accessible on hand: found materials, trash around my studio, and recycled paper and cardboard. I favor reduced-tech components and practices. I enjoy the uniqueness inherent in objects that are created by hand that reveal the faults and deviations.

What are some current projects that you participated in? I imagined your current on the internet functionality, presented by The Relocating Corporation and structured by Essex Bouquets, looked really interesting and I’d really like to find out extra about that.

I participated in a general performance Zoom-sharing function. It was pretty exciting generating a effectiveness in my dwelling, as opposed to in a studio or gallery. My general performance was identified as “Indoor Gentle Creating.” I painted on myself with acrylic paint, in an attempt to integrate in just a nest of paintings and drawings on bedsheets.

Zehra Khan, “Indoor Mild Earning,” ink and acrylic paint on bedsheets and self, are living overall performance on Zoom, January 24, 2021

I’ll test to describe your dwell virtual performance: portray dots on oneself when immersed in a nest of sheets included in a hand painted polka-dot or pointillist design and style. As you paint dots on your body they commence to vibrate in opposition to the patterned drapery. The proliferation of dots in the foreground and background come to be camouflage and edges between determine and place blur. It makes a abundant and confounding virtual house that flattens 2D and 3D place. It reminds me of Yayoi Kusama’s Human body Competition “polka dot happenings” and painting on women’s bodies. I identified this to be a playful however intimate and interactive reaction to the quarantine and remote mother nature of the earlier yr. Also the way you make eye get hold of with the digital camera or viewer can make me aware of my own searching or gaze, I am drawn to artwork that pulls me out of myself to have awareness of my perception. I am impressed by your one of a kind way of organically weaving elements, experiences, and relationships with each other fluidly.

I started painting on persons extended ago, and recognized that the act itself was intensely own, and typically a private studio practice. I began experimenting with portray on folks with an audience, inviting them into a sort of surreal look at my inventive process. In outcome taking away and divulging my system. I have done three reside performances at art openings, starting with 1 at Gallery Ehva in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 2010. Kusama is a huge influence with her surreal playfulness. I am extremely interested in intimacy and house, which led me to operate on bedsheets, blankets and make quilts.

Zehra Khan, “Oh Shit Quilt,” sculpture: acrylic paint and staples on paper collage, 54 x 96″, double-sided, 2016

What are you doing work on now?

I’m doing work on a Chicago cityscape challenge for set up in the MANA library windows. I have generally been fascinated by the make-up of the town, the stacking and clashing shapes of structures, scaffolding and bridges. My hot glue shapes mimic the skyline witnessed from the window, whilst emphasizing abstract styles.

I established a comparable venture for the duration of my art residency at Tiger Strikes Asteroid very last February, when I put in very hot glue shapes on to the window of the gallery. My impending job in the library presents a totally different view… A broad vista of the Chicago skyline.

And you have invited artist Jaclyn Jacunski to have a solo exhibition that opened in Could 2021 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Chicago. Explain to me much more about what you see in Jacunski’s function and why you picked it for TSA.

Jaclyn’s work calls for conversation. I was immediately drawn to her function with reflective surfaces and bedazzled chain url fences. Jaclyn explores the visible language of boundaries, and is motivated by the politics inherent with living in Chicago.

“Jaclyn Jacunski: Burning Oneself Out” is at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Chicago, 2233 South Throop, Device 419, through June 26. 

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