CraftSanity Podcast Episode 142: A conversation with ArtPrize 2014 Artist Anila Quayyum Agha

IMG_0515By Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood

A little girl jumps high delighted by her wild-haired shadow.

Nearby a young couple engages in a public display of affection casting a romantic silhouette upon the wall.

Families inch forward and back to get just the right combination of pattern and silhouette before snapping several photos.

Artist Anila Quayyum Agha, of Indianapolis, discusses her “Intersections” installation with ArtPrize attendees at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

No one seems to mind any of this as the experience of stepping into the room where Anila Quayyum Agha’s “Intersections” ArtPrize entry – a laser-cut, 6.5-foot cube that casts opulent 32- by 34-foot shadows onto the walls, floor and ceiling of the exhibition space at the Grand Rapids Art Museum – seems to be evoking joy for most viewers.

By the end of the first week of ArtPrize 2014 all 10,000 of Agha’s postcards would be gone and more would need to be printed after thousands complete a lap around her sculpture that floods the room with doily-like patterns.

“That is the most gratifying thing to see,” Agha said. “People are dancing and they’re taking pictures against the shadows.”

Agha, 49, an associate professor of drawing at Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University, spent 15 months creating her sculptural piece out of laser cut wood, a light bulb and black paint. The single light source is enough to wow the masses from where it hangs in the middle of a room, flooding the space with shadow patterns inspired by photos of tiles and other ornate designs she photographed while visiting Alhambra, a palace in Granada, Spain.

Tune in to episode 142 of the podcast to hear Agha tell the story behind her ArtPrize entry that is in contention for a top prize. And read the rest of my MLive.com column about her here.

IMG_0537Up Next: Check back here later in the week for an interview with ArtPrize artist and Ludington, Michigan-based photojournalist Ryan Spencer Reed who has created a moving installation of war photography now on display at The Grand Rapids Art Museum. He will be featured in my next newspaper column as well.

Gratitude: A special thanks to my Patreon sponsors and my new sponsor, ACS Home and Work, for supporting this podcast. I discovered ACS when I was looking for a local source for flour sack tea towels for printmaking and embroidery purposes. I’m very happy to be supporting a West Michigan-based company with my business and now ACS is stepping in to sponsor the CraftSanity Podcast through the end of the year. (Thank you!!)

Local West Michigan listeners can shop ACS products at the Red Door, 6837 Lake Michigan Dr, in Allendale Charter Township. It’s the ACS outlet and also a pickup location for locals who want to order flour sack tea towels and other goods and skip the shipping costs. Visit Red door for a variety of tea towels and other home goods.

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