ZanBeelart: South Asian American Art Festival 2010
By Farhana Sahibzada

Glimpses of the South Asian American Art Festival 2010 organized by ZanBeelart

From a turbulent political and economic climate emerges vibrant art with global vision! A glistening piece of artwork on silver metal net inscribed with a verse from the Qur’an Iqra bisme written with sparkling diamond like pieces shards of mirror titled “Seek Knowledge” by artist Hayat Gul. The artwork reflected a kaleidoscope of colors, draping the entrance wall welcomed the visitors, in the expansive Arena 1 Gallery at the Santa Monica Art Studios in Santa Monica California.

Guests were drawn towards another glorious work of art by Asad Hussain, an emerging artist from Karachi exhibiting in the USA for the first time. His artwork was titled “Morphing:” the term comes from metamorphosis, which means a profound change. The artwork was seven feet by eight feet on leather with a crouched child in charcoal spreading his golden wings; he uses shades of charcoal to masterfully draw the figure of a child; however, for gigantic golden wings his medium of choice is gotta, gold and silver inks. This was a favorite photo shoot for audience as adults and children crowded to pose as an angel ready for a flight of change. Asad feels strongly about the plight of children as a global issue.

This artwork is also a perfect symbol for the “City of Angels” and thus one of the most prominent woman philanthropist Mrs. Amina Adaya has bought the artwork and will be donating it to the City of Los Angeles offices at an upcoming formal ceremony. “Morphing” is a beautiful, powerful image and a positive symbol of the future coalitions between the people of all roots and regions.

This is the third annual South Asian American Art Festival titled “Roots.......... Regions & Reasons” sponsored by Zanbeelart. The Exhibition showcased 27 contemporary artists from America, South Asia and of the Diaspora from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan Iran co-curated by Fatima Sultan and Amina B Ahmed.

The curators Ahmed and Sultan felt the Exhibition explores the multicultural relationship of artists through the theme “Roots.......... Regions & Reasons.” We looked at mark making, connecting figurative works and the use of text and mapping. Words are visual... this exhibition shows the importance and need for mapping and the written word. We have entered an era of transcending boundaries and are at the height of technology and see text everywhere and almost everyone is texting. This exhibition sees the multiple ways by which artists use language and text as part of their work and a way to connect both the past and the present, here, there and as “other”.

The South Asian Art Festival was held at the Santa Monica Art Studios on Saturday, May 1, 2010.

About Zanbeel Art’s 2010 South Asian American Art Festival:

The artists inspired by the title of the exhibit “Roots.......Regions and Reasons,” indulged in juxtaposition of logic and emotion, creativity and calculation thus crystallizing the personal and global events culminating into an artwork of individual medium of choice.

The importance of this exhibition was in bringing artists together from diverse backgrounds and regions to make a difference with art for art. This Exhibition was a symbol of the union that is possible, about coalition, the need for art and how artists can make a difference. A grassroots program ‘The ZanBeelart’ provides a forum for the voice of artists that want to educate, transform and inspire. The South Asian American Arts festival was a testament to their mission. The Festival program included art workshops in the galleries led by some of the artists.

ZanBeelart 2010 SAAAF participating artists included Purshotam Adve, Sonia Chaudhary, Pritika Chowdhry, Scot Clarkson, Hayat Gul, Ramesh Gorjala, Reem Hammad, Abid Hasan, Asad Hussain, Tehniyet Hussain , Wahab Jaffer, C.F. John, Manush CJ, Masuma Halai Khwaja, Lubna Lipton, Bina Malkani, Zahra Malkani, Amitis Motevalli, Suresh Muthukulam, Murali Nagapuza, Antonio Puri, Ali Rahamad, Tara Rashid, Amin Rehman, Satyakam Saha, Halide Salam, Natasha Shoro, Azis T.M., Huda Totonji, and Farooq Yousufzai.

Funds raised from the sale of the artwork will go for LAUSD multicultural program prepared by Cheryl Maletta Trujillo, Director Faculty San Dominguez University California.

The exhibition had seven components:

Contemporary art by 27 emerging and established artists. (30% of the proceeds from sale benefit Los Angeles low socio-economic schools art program, 99% of art programs have been cut back due to budget cuts.

18-22 years art Co-Curated by Raeesa Tar.

Book signing launchings and sales of South Asian and American writers.

Art workshops in South Asian and Islamic art and history for Los Angeles low socio-economic schools, 1-4 grades. (60 school children attended the workshops)

Comedy show by Pakistani comedienne Beo Zafar. ( All proceeds benefit, an organization for underprivileged children in Pakistan)

Poetry reading by Beo Zafar and Mehnaz Turner.

Exhibition of work by The Citizens Foundation School Children: all works for $120.00 help pay one year fee for 1 underprivileged child in Pakistan. Markham Middle School, a gang-infested Los Angeles school, each artwork $120.00 pays for art program at school. (For details

The multimedia exhibition included Painting, Photography, Video, Installation, Collage, Drawing, Sculpture and photography, The artists bespoke of the times using plethora of materials Lucite, fabrics, foam, metal, handmade paper, gotta, lights, fabric, plastic, wood, ink, plaster, thread and sequins with meticulous and refined craftsmanship reflecting the present state of affairs globally.

Amin Rehman challenges the toxic waste issue and harmful ways of disposal by irresponsible governments and companies. Tehniyet Husain’s powerful work “Bound by Tradition” is the most thought provoking sculpture. “All cultures, Eastern or Western, modern or backward, find ways to inflict violence upon women. In my art, I have used Urdu script for East and English script for the Western society,” said Tehniyet. “Usually women endure violence without uttering a word of discontent, in fear of retribution and shame in society.”

The intricate writing often changes from Urdu to English and Arabic describing events. We will see the use is text in another work but this time suspended from the ceiling in a cluster of kites by Pritika Chowdhry titled “The Shadow Lines” a project comprised of maps drawn and stitched onto kites. Kite-flying is a very popular friendly but competitive sport in various parts of South Asia and has a long history intertwined with many cultural threads. While the size and shapes of the kites are same as the patangs popular in India and Pakistan, they have been made of very skin-like materials” P Chowdhry. Artworks from the Dravidam Gallery in India included works that transport the audience to another time and place. A delight to many was the skilful and stunning painting by Cf John “Still. Silent “ Acrylic on Canvas John’s artwork is a continual challenge both to himself and the viewer. Like all else, he sees art as a fluid space which transcends ideologies and is freed from ‘endless imitation’ of current thoughts in circulation” echoed in the next gallery is the work of his son Manush CJ only seventeen year of age, he paints a portrait of his father. “Engaging in Stillness II” The image in both artists works recalls prostration Ramesh Gorjala’s Arjuna andPurshotam Adve Cowherd take us back to the master art of Indian painting, the imagery of the work that is undeniably South Asian, colors that will remain contemporary long after the artists. Farooq Yousufzai honed on the Regions of Sindh and Rajasthan, depicting everyday lifestyles with pastels which he makes by using indigenous colors from the regions of Sindh by diluting and mixing several shades and finally achieving the correct palette. His forty five pieces of artwork a complete series which took him more than three years to complete covered a twenty feet wide wall was a superb part of the exhibition attracting viewers to take a glimpse in the life of the villagers,

SAAAF gave a platform to the young Raeesa Tarr in giving Her a voice in the selection process of the South Asian Diaspora artists in the 18-21 age rage. With artwork that reflected the present turmoil both religious and political. Tarr a second year student at the Santa Monica College, has passion for art and has been volunteering her services for Zanbeelart for the last two years, She is a photographer and a caricaturist.

Razina Tarr attended to numerous books and authors. Several art books published by Foundation for Modern Museum of Art in Karachi were on sale.

The rollicking part was the comedy show by the Hilarious Pakistani comedienne Beo Zafar a poet, writer & TV anchor. The author of the book “Dreamer Awakes” read from her book and touched the hearts of many attending.

Mehnaz Turner a 2009 PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry, eloquently recited “Shakespeare is Punjabi” and other interesting poems drawing the attention and interest of a younger crowd. She writes regularly on her Blog

Ethan Casey was signing his new book “Overtaken by Events: A Pakistan Road Trip,” it recounts a six-week overland journey from Mumbai to Karachi via the Wagah border crossing in early 2009, for an enthusiastic audience.

Anila Ali was signing “Mommy am I.........” with her co-author Karen

Zanbeelart is working with Cheryl Maletta Trujillo Director of faculty LAUSD Dominquez Hills to establish a south Asian Art/history program to foster understanding of the people and cultures of south Asia. This program will continue to be part of a sister school program with The Citizens Foundation Schools in Pakistan.

The Gallery was bustling with energy like never seen before with artists, writers, performers and several visitors and guests a diverse group of people interested in knowing more about the oppressed and marginalized regions of the world as expressed by artists.

For more information about the different programs Please visit

Photographs courtesy of, Faiz Ahmed, Scott Clarkson, Raeesa Tarr


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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