Humaira Abid: Searching for Home

April 1-August 6, 2023

Humaira Abid: Searching for Home features the artwork of Seattle-based, Pakistan-born artist Humaira Abid. Abid is known for her unique visual language, which includes the discipline of traditional Mughal miniature painting and wood sculpture. Her career-long decision to specialize in woodcarving, a male-dominated field, reflects her commitment to challenging stereotypes and exposing taboos. The beauty and mastery of her to-scale carvings of seemingly benign objects like suitcases, belie the violence, upheaval, and instability in society, especially among women.

Searching for Home presents a human-scaled look at the worldwide refugee crisis, focusing on the plight of women and girls, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the millions who have fled their home countries as a result of political conflict and strife, domestic abuse, ethnic cleansing, and persecution. The exhibition features works by the artist that were created after months of research and interviews with refugee women who have resettled in both the Pacific Northwest and Pakistan from nations including Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan.

As you enter the exhibition gallery, you are confronted with a barricade of mahogany-carved barbed wire that disrupts movement and prevents entry and exit. Beyond this barrier lie the strewn belongings of refugees who have fled their homes in fear. Some of the objects—framed photographs of loved ones, personal items buried in rubble—have been left behind, while others appear to have been lost or jettisoned mid-flight.

The owners, wearers, and users of the memorialized objects are conspicuously absent, leaving visitors to draw their own conclusions about their fates and how the unseen events unfolded. Abid’s sculptural installations offer viewers the unique experience of immersing themselves in these poignant, precarious situations—if only momentarily—within the safety of the gallery walls.

In her passionate relating of these stories, Abid urges us all to look beyond our personal circumstances, privileges, and prejudices—and consider our own stake in the welfare of humankind

Humaira Abid: Searching for Home is curated by Jennifer-Navva Milliken and organized by the Museum for Art in Wood, Philadelphia, PA, in partnership with the Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA.

Support provided by

Carl M Hansen Foundation

About the Artist

Humaira Abid was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. She immigrated to the United States in 2008 and now lives and works in Seattle, WA. Abid received her BFA in sculpture and miniature painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2000. Her carved and painted works, known for their virtuosity and exquisite detail, have been exhibited internationally in prestigious museums and galleries and documented in books, catalogues, and periodicals around the world. Abid is the recipient of numerous residencies and honors, most recently the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award. 

Exhibition Content Advisory

Humaira Abid: Searching for Home explores themes of war and displacement. Some of the artworks in this exhibition include red stains representing blood. Guests who prefer not to view this content are able to continue past the gallery without walking through it.