Uprooted Order in Houston

A critical moment for Sikander came with her selection as a Core Fellow at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. During a period when few residencies provided artists the space and time to develop, Sikander was given two years (1995–97) to further explore the discoveries she had made at RISD. Houston, a region with its own cultural dynamics and history, stimulated Sikander’s creativity and dialogue with a broader spectrum of racial and diasporic communities.

In Texas, Sikander became more aware of racial complexities in the United States, including African American and civil rights histories and immigrant patterns and movements, all, she recalled, “magnifying my desire to understand the other in the shifting contentious multiplicity of the American sociocultural topography.” During this time, Sikander’s work increased in scale as she built wall-sized installations that combined her tracing-paper drawings. She also continued layering traditional painting with a growing personal vocabulary, producing work that quickly brought her to the fore of the American art world.

The Morgan Library & Museum. Artwork © Shahzia Sikander, Photography © Casey Kelbaugh