Mehreen Hashmi is an independent curator, art educator and internationally exhibited visual artist from Karachi, Pakistan. Since 2010, she has been engaged with her community, initiating public art projects and exhibiting her own art work. She is the founder of a non-profit project ‘Paywasta Reh Shajar Se’ in order to promote art education for children with such challenges as addiction, lack of resources and childhood abuse. She also curated Pakistan’s first Karachi Art Summit in 2017 and recently participated in an international group show in London titled ‘Modern Panic VIII’.
Her heartfelt story is about how her art and curatorial projects have helped her as a survivor of sexual abuse and how she uses art to give a voice to other survivors. She states, “Being a visual artist has served to share my sufferings and narrate my story through visuals whereas being a curator has given me the liberty of curatorial activism…” To view her art and learn more about her please visit her website at www.mehreenhashmi.com ~ Renée Phillips
Mehreen Hashmi’s Story
Abuse can be fatal emotionally for a child as well as adults. In most cases, it scars deeply and one suffers throughout their life. There are possibilities including counseling or converting their post traumatic disorder into nonverbal communication.
I have always believed in producing art work of a strong nonverbal communication which can scream loudly without a voice. This is the reason for the choice to deal with it through my practice as a visual artist and curator.
With sexual abuse, I have suffered physical and emotional abuse as well. I wanted to share the after math and its horrid effects on a person’s life. My work has been a statement for all the survivors of sexual abuse, women of domestic violence, and children from abusive families. It has served as a companion during my darkest days of my break downs.
Being a visual artist has served to share my sufferings and narrate my story through visuals whereas being a curator has given me the liberty of curatorial activism and bring together other artists’ work in one show.
My self-portraits are a depiction of these heinous acts of others on one’s body, mind and soul. It is a narration of oppression, turmoil and an ordeal which I have faced on daily basis during a certain period of my life.
It has been also difficult to display my work based on most critical context of my society; sexual abuse and protesting against the pedophiles. It is not an easy practice to display your most vulnerable emotions for a public display and prepare yourself for the reaction as well.
There are taboos against mental illness, emotional break downs and addressing sexual assault in our society. Mostly those who have been suffering from it do not share it which can cause more emotional damage.
One of my curated shows ‘Basiliq’ in 2015 addressed particularly such taboos, rituals and social boundaries. In addition, my work was recently displayed in ‘Modern Panic VIII’, a show based on provocative art at Apiary Studios, London.
My paintings might not fall under the category of visually pleasing but they provoke questions against the most heinous crimes happening around us. My work has given me all the confidence, companionship and strength that I have always needed to function.
Visit Mehreen Hashmi’s website at http://www.mehreenhashmi.com