Qinza Najm: Still I Rise
September 6, 2019 - October 6, 2019
155 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Excerpt from the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
A.I.R. Gallery is pleased to announce Still I Rise, an exhibition by Qinza Najm, a New York-based, Pakistani-American artist who works across multiple disciplines. Najm, who holds a PhD in Psychology, creates art that is informed by both Eastern and Western philosophies based on compassion, as well as feminist theories concerned with gendered violence and female subjectivity. Her fluid movement between different disciplines is illustrated in this exhibition, which features a selection from four bodies of work that resonate with one another. The imagery centers on a woman’s body (represented, for the most part, by the artist’s own body) situated within a physically, socially, or mentally constraining space. The body is repeatedly represented sitting, reclining, kneeling, or stretching, either wearing a hijab or else exposed.
The central image that serves as a point of departure for this exhibition is Veil of Bullets (2018). This work is based on an earlier performance in which the artist wore a 40-pound veil laden with 1,100 plus empty bullet casings representing the number of honor killings that occurred in Pakistan during the previous year, as well as the 1,100 children and adults killed during school shootings in the US, as an entry point to talk about global traumas and violence. The image of the artist kneeling and wrapped in fishing net was subsequently cut out and used as a silhouette, or negative, in two series of carpet and oil paintings which include appropriated images of women’s bodies as they have been represented throughout the history of Western art.
Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Qinza Najm pursued her fine arts studies a The Art Students League of New York. She has a PhD in Psychology and has exhibited internationally, including at the Queens Museum (NY), Christie’s Art (Dubai), the Museum of the Moving Image (NY), and the Karachi Biennale (Pakistan). Her work has been featured in ArtNet News, The Huffington Post, NY Daily News, International Business Week, Buzzfeed, and Upworthy. She lives and works in New York.