Unveiling Artistic Narratives: A Journey through the Indus Valley Fine Art Degree Show
Unveiling Artistic Narratives: A Journey through the Indus Valley Fine Art Degree Show

Typically, the conclusion of the academic year is an exciting time for young artists who have spent four years nurturing their skills, ideas, and research into a unified body of work. This journey, characterised by different stages of development, culminates in a jubilant exhibition. However, what the audience witnesses is just a carefully selected portion of the extensive art created throughout this process.

The emergence of new talent brings revitalising energy to any cultural landscape, and in the context of Pakistan, it serves as a moment for introspection. This opportunity allows us to examine society through the prism of creative endeavours. It’s a chance for us to support our growing creative community. Moreover, it marks a pivotal moment to navigate the evolving terrain of visual art, contemplating its impact and what artists aspire to achieve within it.

In this article, I will delve into a few noteworthy thesis projects presented at the recent Fine Art degree show of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. I will be examining the diverse range of creative endeavors that emerged from this program. The program is known for its strong emphasis on critical thinking, built upon a rigorous, skill-based education. Students undergo comprehensive training that encompasses material research, art history, and liberal arts. Furthermore, each student is tasked with writing an interdisciplinary research paper that analyses academic papers, historical references, and requires first-hand research.

This interdisciplinary education, rooted in art, influences students’ critical thinking and initiative. As they engage with diverse disciplines, the graduating artists not only showcase their creative skills but also emphasize the potential for collaborative efforts within a broader network. Unlike traditional teaching approaches, where professionals often stick to specific fields, these Fine Art students step outside their comfort zones. They gather knowledge from various disciplines and academic backgrounds, shaping their creative practice. Consequently, their contribution to society becomes multi-pronged.

Alizeh Afzal Khan, ‘Notes from M’s Bedroom’, Installation, size variable, 2023

In a compelling example, Alizeh Afzal presented her thesis in the form of ten distinct zines. These small-scale publications were delicately arranged on a long table with just a few chairs nearby, encouraging viewers to sit and intimately engage with the content privately. Zines, recognised for their experimental nature and historical ties to resistance and DIY culture, lend additional depth and context to Afzal’s work.

Comprising a blend of prose and photography, Afzal’s zines were crafted with artistic finesse. Unconventionally, the photographs don’t merely illustrate the writings; they respond to them, as if the art forms are engaged in a conversation with each other but have different communication styles. The writing itself is poetic, experimental, and meticulously crafted to visually resemble a work of art, transcending the conventional boundaries of presentation and storytelling. The fact that there were ten zines presented shows there was a considerable amount of content and exploration.

In her written work, Afzal skilfully weaves insights from academic papers and other works of literature, enhancing her narrative with added layers of depth and context. These references contribute to a richer exploration of the central themes she delves into, friendship, love, and memory. When discussing the future of her practice, Afzal highlighted how people deeply connected with her zines, reached out to build meaningful connections over her content. She envisions her future practice with a strong emphasis on community, possibly organising events to foster meaningful engagement.

Works by Kainaat Waseem (foreground) and Samira Yaqoob (background), sizes variable, 2023

While the gallery world is a familiar avenue for many fine artists, the diverse skill sets they have cultivated empower them to contribute creatively and meaningfully to society in various other ways. Recognising this potential early in one’s career is pivotal. Another thesis that exemplified an interdisciplinary approach was Samina Hasan Laghari’s project, titled “After 1992.” Reflecting a research-driven approach in her visual art practice, Laghari addresses the climatic devastation in her village, utilizing various visuals to capture the irreparable loss of the past and record symptoms of a challenging future. She meticulously documents the changing landscape of her village through satellite maps, photographs, and videos. Laghari’s research-driven practice goes beyond mere observation. Using archaeological skills, she delves into the intricacies of human and non-human habitats affected by droughts, floods, ecological erosion, and displacement. Her extensive hands-on fieldwork is evident in her visual display, where she transformed vast amounts of information into an immersive experience. Occupying half of the Indus Valley Gallery, her display made a significant impact. Through the layering and curation of various archives, she allows the land to speak for itself. Advocacy is often at the heart of many art practices, and Laghari’s work stands as a testament to the transformative power of art, actively engaging with and addressing pressing societal issues.

Samina Hassan Leghari, ‘After 1992’. Installation, size variable, 2023

A Fine Art education is far from a casual journey; students are expected to invest significantly. In addition to mastering traditional visual art skills like drawing and painting, the range of artistic possibilities exposed to them demands the discovery of a fertile visual language of their own. Their content and critical thinking undergo further scrutiny, enduring lengthy critiques, both individually and in group settings. The evolution of their artistic practice is also the evolution of their critical thinking. Art transcends a commodity; it serves as a means to communicate with reflective spectators, inspiring change.

The Fine Art Degree show unfolded as a vibrant tapestry of individual expressions, where each student’s unique perspective wove seamlessly into the collective narrative. From evocative narratives depicted in exquisite paintings to contemplating everyday objects through larger-than-life hyper-realistic sculptures, the exhibition transcended conventional boundaries. It featured animations, explorations of toys through sculpture, enigmatic crocheted artworks delving into discussions on femininity, and a myriad of other captivating works, presenting a diverse range of talent.

In engaging conversations with the students, one theme stood out – the willingness to take risks. Their creative journeys spoke of an unwavering commitment to the development of their practice, leading them to this pivotal point. As the echoes of the show linger in our minds, they stand as a compelling testament to the transformative power of artistic exploration.

Title image: Sadia Zia, ‘Untitled’, medium: wool, single and double knot crochet, size variable, 2023

All images courtesy, Arsalan Nasir.

Zoya Alina Currimbhoy is a Karachi-born visual artist who graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017. Her artistic journey encompasses global exhibitions, showcasing a diverse range of works spanning installations, sculptures, performances, videos, and paintings. Beyond her artistic pursuits, Zoya is an accomplished educator. She served as an adjunct faculty member at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, teaching a variety of courses within the Fine Art Department, covering both studio-based and theory and research-based classes. Approaching her craft with a multidisciplinary mindset, Zoya creates dynamic designs that provide unique viewer experiences. In 2021, She earned an MA in Spatial Performance and Design from the Architectural Association School of Architecture, concentrating on utilising live art practices as effective tools for promoting social justice and facilitating the rehabilitation of individuals who have experienced violence.

Share this post

There are no comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Start typing and press Enter to search

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Filter by Custom Post Type
Filter by Categories
Shopping Cart