Nadia Waheed

I paint women because I am a woman, and mitigating the endless layers of complexity surrounding femininity and vulnerability and whatever ideas are thrust onto us, hoops we need to jump through to be given “worth”... these are all questions I’m painting through. 

—  Nadia Waheed's answer when asked about the presence of the female in her work on "Nadia Waheed: Wearing Your Braid As A Badge", by Christina Nafziger for Create! Magazine. 2019.


Omira. 2019. Image from artist's website.

The loss felt by immigrant families comes in two waves - that of what was left behind, and the cultural distance experienced by their children. Caught between two worlds, it is a tightrope act between assimilation and maintaining connection to their parents’ culture. Balance is not the right term, but rather a constant tension; a step in either direction leading to a furthered distance from the other, never fully comfortable in either.

Nadia expresses these tensions in her practice with the particular lens as a woman navigating both cultural and gender roles which further amplifies the oscillation between cultures.

In "Moksha," the viewer is presented with a female figure gazing directly outward, holding onto braided hair with a mendied hand. That she is both nude and holding braided hair are recurring motifs in Nadia’s work. They are presented as direct opposition to what is considered a “good girl” in South Asian communities while still holding onto the same culture, literally, in her hands. The direct gaze serves both as a challenge to viewers while conveying a sense of empowerment that arises from continuing to navigate those tensions and forging new ways to consider identity.


Odalisque. 2018. Image from artist's website.

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