Mequitta Ahuja

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Mequita Ahuja
Born 1976
Alma mater Hampshire College
University of Chicago
Movement Automythography

Mequitta Ahuja (born 1976) is a contemporary American painter of African American and Asian Indian descent who resides in Baltimore, Maryland.

Early life[edit]

She received her BA at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1998, and her MFA at University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003,[1] where she was mentored by contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall.

Art career[edit]

In 2007, 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".[2][3]

Ahuja's art explores the social construction of issues such as race, gender, and identity through a technique of self-portraiture that she calls "automythography", a term borrowed from African American feminist Audre Lorde's "biomythography".[4] Through automythography, Ahuja blends historical, autobiographical, and mythological elements together in what she describes as a "process of identity formation in which nature, culture, and self-intervention merge".[5] Her art tends to feature vast landscapes in an abstract style, frequently depicting the artist in the costume of warriors, goddesses, and other fantastical beings.[6]

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.[7] Ahuja has discussed her paintings as being feminist,[8] 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".[9]

In 2007, Ahuja was included in the exhibition Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum of Art,[10] 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.[11] Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, 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.[12] In 2010, Ahuja was profiled as the "Artist to Watch" in the February edition of ArtNews.[8]


  1. ^ "Curriculum Vitae - Mequitta Ahuja". Automythography. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  2. ^ "The Listings - June 1 - June 7". The New York Times. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  3. ^ "Biography - Mequitta Ahuja". Automythography. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  4. ^ Lorde, Audre (1 January 1982). Zami: A New Spelling of My Name - A Biomythography. Crossing Press Feminist Series. ISBN 0895941228. 
  5. ^ "Artist's Statement - Mequitta Ahuja". Automythography. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  6. ^ Wright, Cherilyn (2010). "Summer-Fall 2010 Usable Pasts: 2009-10 Artists in Residence: Mequitta Ahuja, Lauren Kelley, Valerie Piraino, The Studio Museum in Harlem, July 15 to October 24, 2010.". International Review of African American Art 23 (2): 36. 
  7. ^ "Artist's Statement - Mequitta Ahuja". Automythography. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  8. ^ a b "Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Mequitta Ahuja". Brooklyn Museum. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  9. ^ ""Dream Region" by Mequitta Ahuja (2009)". War Baby / Love Child. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  10. ^ Maura Reilly & Linda Nochlin, ed. (2007). Global feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art (1st ed.). New York: Merrell. ISBN 1858943906. 
  11. ^ Laura Kinn, Wei Ming Dariotis, & Kent A. Ono, ed. (2013). War baby/love child : Mixed Race Asian American Art. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0295992255. 
  12. ^ "Biography". Mequitta Ahuja: Automythography. Retrieved February 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]