|Alma mater||Hampshire College
University of Illinois
Mequitta Ahuja (born 1976) is a contemporary American painter of African American and Asian Indian descent who resides in Baltimore, Maryland.
She received her BA at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1998, and her MFA at University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003, where she was mentored by contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall.
In 2007, in Ahuja's debut exhibition in New York city, New York Times art critic Holland Cotter said of Ahuja's work, "Referring to the artist's African-American and East Indian background, the pictures turn marginality into a regal condition".
Ahuja's art explores the social construction of issues such as race, gender, and identity through a technique of self-portraiture.
To create her paintings, Ahuja relies on a three-step process that involves performance, photography, and drawing/painting. Ahuja begins by developing a series of performances involving costumes, props, and poses. With the aid of a remote shutter, she then photographs her performances and documents them as "non-fictional source material." Finally, she incorporates these photographs into her invented material, resulting in her completed self-portraits. Ahuja has discussed her paintings as being feminist, referring to the assertive, self-sufficient female presence prevalent in her work, and frequently turns to her African American and Asian Indian roots in her consideration of identity issues. She states that through her art, "I feel I can have relationships to these groups on my own terms".
In 2007, Ahuja was included in the exhibition Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and in 2009 her painting "Dream Region" was featured as the cover of the book War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art in which the artist was featured. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States as well as in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, India and Dubai, and she has been the recipient of multiple awards for her art, including the Tiffany Foundation Award in 2007, a 2009 Joan Mitchell Award, and a 2008 Houston Artadia Prize. In 2010, Ahuja was profiled as an "Artist to Watch" in the February edition of ArtNews.
Ahuja appropriates ancient works of myth and legend, such as the fifteenth century Persian manuscript and Hindu miniature paintings, into her own commitment to certain kinds of identity fabrication. She articulated her own artistic style as "Of primary concern to me is the agency we have to self-invent and self-represent... creative processes that are necessarily bricolage. We draw on personal and cultural history as well as our creative imaginations". In her projects "Autocartography I" and "Rhyme Sequence: Wiggle Waggle", the pictorial styles of the paintings are cross-cultural as well as autobiographical.
Her works were exhibited:
Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge in Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
Marks of Genius: One Hundred Extraordinary Drawings in Minneapolis institute of Arts
Baltimore Museum of Art in Sondheim Prize Finalists Exhibition
State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now in Telfair Museums Jepson Center
State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now in Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Champagne Life in Saatchi Gallery in London UK
- "The Listings - June 1 - June 7". The New York Times. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
- "Biography - Mequitta Ahuja". Automythography. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
- "Artist's Statement - Mequitta Ahuja". Automythography. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
- "Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Mequitta Ahuja". Brooklyn Museum. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
- ""Dream Region" by Mequitta Ahuja (2009)". War Baby / Love Child. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
- Maura Reilly; Linda Nochlin, eds. (2007). Global feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art (1st ed.). New York: Merrell. ISBN 1858943906.
- Laura Kinn; Wei Ming Dariotis; Kent A. Ono, eds. (2013). War baby/love child : Mixed Race Asian American Art. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0295992255.
- "Biography". Mequitta Ahuja: Automythography. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Gallery, Saatchi. "Mequitta Ahuja - Artist's Profile - The Saatchi Gallery". www.saatchigallery.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Schedule of Exhbiitions". Mequitta Ahuja. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Drawing on the Edge | National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution". www.npg.si.edu. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now – Telfair Museums". www.telfair.org. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- Biography: http://www.mequittaahuja.com/biography.html
- Artist's Statement: http://www.mequittaahuja.com/text.html
- Review in City Paper: http://www.citypaper.com/arts/visualart/bcpnews-sondheim-finalists-2015-mequitta-ahujas-allegorical-oil-paintings-reference-art-historys-canon-and-r-20150707-story.html