About the Author

A first generation Pakistani-American woman, I was confronted by my “otherness” from a very young age, being a token of diversity at my private school in North Carolina.  As a brown-skinned, big-haired, mosque-going, curry-eating, mustached girl who couldn’t date, eat bacon, or wear shorts, I was the token of diversity at my private school in North Carolina.  I envied my blue-eyed, blonde-haired, pop-collared, seer-suckered, church-going peers who vacationed on islands.  I assumed that these were the sorts of things that really mattered.For years, I tortured myself trying to blend in, trying to stand out, trying to “find myself” within these little boxes.  But it’s impossible.  Instead, I make art that is, I hope, less categorized and reductive, reflecting that the boundaries we create between us and inside of us are, in fact, an illusion.  So my work is not so much about defining Muslim women, or anyone, but undefining them.  About undefining ourselves and connecting to that universal something that exists within all of us.  That “something of the eternal.”As I move forward, I am attempting to show this universal something through an increasingly emphasized combination of geometric and organic design, communicating meaning through the use of these flat forms.  I feel that this is a further exploration of my heritage, incorporating Islamic art’s emphasis on geometric pattern with the colorful, flowering, curled lines of South Asia, balanced and integrated within a contemporary American context.

SABA CHAUDHRY BARNARD is a first-generation American woman from North Carolina. Her artistic perspective draws from her experience growing up Pakistani and Muslim in the United States. Ms. Barnard’s portraits provide commentary on the labels that we use to identify and separate ourselves, with specific regard to gender, race, and religion. Her focus is on the universal human experience, and she uses her portraits of Muslim women to demonstrate that diversity is not a separating factor, but a place to begin connection. View Saba's featured content piece, "Technicolor Muslimah," and visit her website at: www.artbysaba.com