Sobia Ahmad's interdisciplinary practice maps how the personal and the political intersect. By weaving personal and communal narratives with current and historical socio-political contexts, she highlights the inseparability of the self and larger power structures. The work poses questions like: What confirms or dissipates our sense of belonging? What effects do policies have on our individual and collective psyches? And how can our deeply intimate struggles of belonging inform larger conversations about national identity, notions of home, cultural memory, and gender?
Born and raised in Pakistan, Sobia Ahmad moved to the United States at the age of fourteen. She graduated with Honors from the Bachelor’s in Studio Art Program at the University of Maryland College Park. Her work has been reviewed in several major publications such as Al Jazeera English, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post and has been included in multiple collections. She has exhibited internationally—including at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (Ithaca, New York), Craft Contemporary (Los Angeles), Queen Mary University (London), Museum of Craft and Design (San Francisco), and the Women Filmmakers Festival at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.). Ahmad's recent achievements include the Wherewithal Research Grant by the Andy Warhol Foundation & the Washington Project for the Arts (2020-2021), a socially-engaged fellowship at Halcyon Arts Lab (2019-2020), and a solo exhibition at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington D.C. (2019).
2015 B.S. Behavioral and Community Health (Magna Cum Laude)
2016 B.A. Studio Art Honors
University of Maryland College Park
ARTIST RESIDENCIES & FELLOWSHIPS
2022 WEAVE: The Artist in Residence Program at Gist Yarn (Upcoming)
2021 Visiting Artist and Teaching Fellowship, Groton School, MA
2020 Halcyon Arts Lab Fellowship, Washington, D.C.
2019 Next Generation/Sanctuary Artist Fellowship at VisArts, Rockville, MD
2018 Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
Arquetopia Artist Residency, Puebla, MX
Sanctuaries DC, Art for Social Impact Fellowship, Washington, D.C.
AWARDS & GRANTS
2021 Semifinalist, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2022, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
The Trawick Prize, Third Place, Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards, Bethesda, MD
Jurors' Award, Call and Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism, Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, CA
2020 Wherewithal Research Grant, Andy Warhol Foundation & Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C.
F.E.A.S.T. Grant, VisArts, Rockville, MD
Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize Semifinalist, Baltimore, MD
NextNOW Fest, Visual Arts Alumni Commission Award, University of Maryland College Park, MD
Catharsis Community Engagement Project Grant
2019 Allies for Justice Award, Asian Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project, Washington, D.C.
2018 Visual Arts Fellowship Award, Vermont Studio Center
2017 Juror’s Award, Shout, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL (Juror: Patricia Nguyen)
2016 Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship, University of Maryland, Department of Art
Sadat Art for Peace Purchase Award
Third Place, Colonel Wharton Award, Graduating Senior Show, University of Maryland, Department of Art
2015 Sadat Art for Peace Purchase Award
SOLO & TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS
2022 In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other, Plain Sight, Washington, D.C. (Solo exhibition)
2021 Here(s), Christopher Brodigan Gallery, Groton School, MA (Solo exhibition)
2020 Conversations: Over Circles, with Monroe Isenberg, Cultivate Projects, Kensington, MD (Two-person exhibition)
2019 wherever you are is called Here, VisArts, Rockville MD (Solo exhibition)
Imbrications, Gallery 102 at Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, Washington, D.C. (Solo exhibition)
I know where I've been, Catalyst Contemporary, Baltimore, MD (Two-person exhibition)
2018 Small Identities, Common Ground Gallery, Rockville, MD (Solo exhibition)
Mirrored Re-Collection, Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland College Park, MD (Two-person exhibition)
MUSEUM GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2021 Call and Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism, Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, CA
2020 Women Filmmakers Festival, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
American Muslim Futures, Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, Honolulu, HI
Art Salon, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
2019 how the light gets in, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY
2018 A (Good) American, Heurich House Museum, Washington, D.C.
2017 Focus Iran 2: Contemporary Photography and Video, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2021 The Artists Studio, The Atlantic Festival, Washington D.C.
Migration Stories, Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba, New York City, NY
Take a Number: Artists and Bureaucracy, Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA
Women in the Arts, Latela Curatorial, Silva Gallery, Washington D.C.
Am I Altering Your Aura? Washington Project for the Arts, Collectors' Night, Washington, D.C.
Silver Linings, Alchemical Vessels 2021, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Empathy Zone, VisArts Center, Rockville, MD (online)
2020 Empathy Zone, Contemporary Art Mover, Beijing, China (Sister Cities Cultural Exchange: Beijing & Washington, D.C.)
High Frequency, Washington Project for the Arts, Collectors' Night, Washington, D.C.
Women in the Arts: Latela Curatorial, Washington, D.C.
Patterning, Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center, Hyattsville, MD
Epilogue, Halcyon Arts Lab, Washington, D.C.
Something Edgeless, Something Spectral, Waller Gallery & Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Authentic Realities, Catalyst Contemporary Gallery, Baltimore, MD
The Garden of Forking Paths, Current Space, Baltimore, MD
2019 Foreword, Halcyon Arts Lab, Washington, D.C.
on tender ground, Current Space, Baltimore, MD
Times of Perception, Stevenson University, School of Deign, Pikesville, MD
School 33 40th Anniversary Invitation Exhibition, School 33 Arts Center, Baltimore, MD
Transformer 16th Annual Auction, Corcoran School of Art and Design, Washington, D.C.
Women of the World, Gallery Three at Takoma Park Community Center, Takoma Park, MD
Honor the Spirit, Sanctuaries Gallery, The Festival Center, Washington, D.C.
Alchemical Vessels 2019, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.
VidArt Auction, The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.
Incandescent Bloom, ASHA for Women 30th anniversary gala, Washington, D.C.
2018 Loud Silence: Expressions of Activism, Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes University, Wilkes Barre, PA
Transformer 15th Annual Auction, Corcoran School of Art and Design, Washington, D.C.
Border (Untitled), Cody Gallery, Marymount University, Arlington, VA
Human Nature, Gallery 110, Seattle, WA (Juror: Sara Krajewski)
Elixir: Artists Respond to Making and Healing, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Vox Lacunae, Stamp Gallery, University of Maryland College Park, MD
2017 Shout, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL (Juror: Patricia Nguyen)
Create/Change, Hillyer Art Space, Washington DC (Juror: Mary Early)
Out/Side & In/Between, School 33, Baltimore, MD (Juror: Jarvis DuBois)
Islamic Art Revival Series: 6th Annual Juried International Contemporary Islamic Art Exhibition, Irving Art Center, Irving, TX (Juror: Dr. Linda Komaroff)
Photography as Response, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO (Juror: Christy Havranek)
Wet Paint, Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA (Juror: Harry Cooper)
Home, Lubzenik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, IN (Jurors: Emanuel Aguilar & Julia Fischbach)
Royal Trash, Queen Mary University, London, United Kingdom
2016 Typecast, Hillyer Art Space, DC (Juror: Jarvis DuBois)
Gen-Y 3.0, VisArts, Rockville, MD
Drawing Board, The Stamp Gallery, College Park, MD
UMD Honors Thesis Show, Herman Maril Gallery, College Park, MD
I Never See You, Brentwood Arts Center, Brentwood, MD
2015 In Response: Conversations Between Emerging Artists and Contemporary Work, The Stamp Gallery, College Park, MD
Continuing Legacies: Old Masters and New Apprentices, Herman Maril Gallery, College Park, MD
PRESS / MEDIA
2022 Image Journal: Sobia Ahmad: The Collective Here
2021 District Fray Magazine: Co-opting Bureaucracy Through Art: Arlington Arts Center’s New Exhibition
The Washington Post: In the galleries: Autobiographical pieces prevail at the Trawick Prize
Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture, No. 9: Moving Across, Through Cultures
District Fray Magazine: The Trawick Prize Honors Local Artists
The Circle Voice: Mudge Fellow Sobia Ahmad: The Personal and the Political
2020 Social Distancing Studio Visit w/ Caroline Kipp: Curator of Contemporary Art, The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.
Contemporary Art Mover: Empathy Zone: 同感地带 | 段少锋 & Sobia Ahmad, Beijing China
2019 The Washington Post: In the galleries (Review of solo exhibition wherever you are is called Here)
The Washington Post: With two group exhibits, maximum exposure for photographers
2018 Huffington Post: The powerful political statement behind this artist’s wall of passport photos
Al-Jazeera English: Muslim immigrants' ID cards used to build a 'wall of defiance'
NBC Asian America: This artist is collecting Muslim immigrants' ID cards to build a different kind of wall
2017 Baltimore City Paper: No Borders: Artists in "Out/Side & In/Between" at School 33 navigate sense of place, culture, self-image, and immigration
The Washington Post: In the galleries: The art of politics has exploded in Washington
2016 Washington City Paper: At Rockville's VisArts, two exhibitions of young artists showcase talent and potential
LECTURES, TALKS, & CONFERENCES
2022 Guest Artist Lecture, Integrative Studio Design Course, Parsons, The New School, New York, NY
Artist Talk at International Center of Photography (Virtual)
Artist Talk at The Alliance Française of Washington, D.C., A Window to Europe Through Literature and Art
2021 More-than-Human Media Architecture Biennale, Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia
Mudge Fellow Campus-wide Artist Lecture, Groton School, MA
The Artists Studio, Panel Discussion at The Atlantic Festival, Washington D.C.
Guest Artist Lecture, Integrative Studio Design Course, Parsons, The New School, New York, NY
2020 Women Filmmakers Festival Artist Panel, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Visual Arts Alumni Commission Lecture, NextNOW Fest, University of Maryland College Park, MD
Guest Artist Lecture, Goucher College, Baltimore, MD
Guest Artist Lecture, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN
Guest Artist Lecture, Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Fibers Department, Richmond, VA
Guest Artist Lecture, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD
Guest Artist Lecture, Integrative Studio Design Course, Parsons, The New School, New York, NY
Guest Artist Lecture, Advanced Design Seminar, Parsons, The New School, New York, NY
Guest Artist Lecture: Art, Trauma, and Activism, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
2019 The Art of Exposure: Double Exposure Film Festival, Eaton Workshop, Washington, D.C.
Guest Lecture: Questioning as a Create Practice, Advance Research Seminar, The New School, New York, NY
Shirt Stories/Shared Stories, Artist Talk at Tribute Collective, Washington DC
Workshop facilitation & Artist Talk, Arts Scholars Program at the University of Maryland College Park, MD
The Only Divisions that Matter Now: A roundtable discussion, Loyola University Baltimore, MD
Healing through Art Panel: Alchemical Vessels 2019, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Guest Artist Lecture, Integrative Studio Design Course, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY
Guest Artist Lecture, Art Theory, University of Maryland College Park, MD
2018 Artist Talk, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT
Artist Lecture in conjunction with exhibition Mirrored Re-Collection, University of Maryland College Park, MD
Guest Artist Talk, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Responding to the Muslim Ban: Art & Activism Panel, Open Government Hub, Washington, D.C.