Mequitta Ahuja Triptych
Through an economy of means: pressure applied to crayon against the bumps and valleys of a page, I describe in Triptych, a distinct cultural space, Black hair. In the late 1800’s, Painter and draftsman, Seurat, established a technique of combining Conte crayon and rough paper to render forms with a dappled light. The process results in a fuzzy, soft texture with speckles of the paper showing through the applied dark surface. In this way, Seurat rendered figures and landscapes. In Triptych, I’ve used Seurat’s technique for my own ends. I depict hair as an embodiment of drawing, equating drawn texture to hair texture.
Responding to the history of Black hair as a barometer of social and personal consciousness, throughout all the works presented, I make the image of hair both physical and conceptual, showing the psychic proportions hair has in the lives ofBlack people. I invert the head. Through this disorientation, I signal a shift from the actual to the imagined, concrete realism to abstract thought. In both painting and drawing, I use the space of hair as a vehicle for infinite possibilities of becoming. In Flow back for example, I mix color to a near black, rendering a landscape that merges with or grows from the subject’s hair roots. Proposing imagination as a primary tool of transformation and self-empowerment, my works demonstrate female self-invention and self-representation through the deployment of her own tools.
I refer to my ongoing project as Automythography. A variation of author Audre Lorde’s coined term for her 1982 book titledA Biomythography, Automythography combines history, myth and personal narrative. Through this form, I attempt to insert my subjectivity as a multi-ethnic woman into the historic visual language of drawing and painting.”
Mequitta Ahuja received an MFA from UIC in 2003, mentored by Kerry James Marshall.Her work has been exhibited in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Bravin Lee Programs inNew York.She has participated in group exhibitions including Global Feminisms at theBrooklyn Museum, Houston Collects African American Art at the Museum of Fine ArtsHouston, Poets and Painters at the Ulrich Museum in Wichita KS and upcoming show,Anomalies at Rossi and Rossi Gallery in Piccadilly, London. Mequitta’s works are in several collections. Public collections include the Ulrich Museum in Wichita KS, theMuseum of Fine Arts Houston, U.S. State Department’s Mumbai, India offices and TheCleveland Children’s Clinic. Private collections that include her work belong to artistNick Cave, Houston City Council Member, Peter Brown and Gallery owner MeredithLong. Mequitta has recently completed a two-year artist residency at The Core Program in Houston Texas. In addition to her work as an artist, Mequitta is the designer of andProgram Director for non-profit summer arts program, Blue Sky Project.