Humaira Abid (she/her)

By Tamika Nastali

A drawing of a red paintbrush over some purple paint.
“Paintbrush” by Anika Gopez.

Humaira Abid is a contemporary artist who takes a cross-cultural approach in examining women’s roles, relationships and taboos. Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, she spent much of her life there before immigrating to the United States in 2008 and settling in Seattle, Washington. Abid earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture and miniature painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2000. Her decision to enter the heavily male-dominated field of wood carving reflects her commitment to challenging gender roles. Her impressive works have been exhibited in prestigious galleries in various countries such as Malaysia, Dubai, India, Pakistan, and the United States. Abid has also been published internationally and has received various awards for her work such as the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award.

Abid has earned international acclaim for her realistic sculptures of mundane objects which she gives meaning to that expands beyond surface level feminism by taking an intersectional approach that examines how various identities contribute to a woman’s experience. Located at the Bellevue Arts Museum, her exhibit Searching for Home addresses the worldwide refugee immigration crisis, focusing on the plight of women refugees and the difficult journeys they face as their families are stripped of comfort and security and are separated from one another. The exhibit includes a wood-carved, barbed wire fence prohibiting viewers from entering the room directly. Then a wall, stained and covered in bullet holes, with paintings of girls from refugee camps. In order to properly represent the communities she was advocating for, Abid interviewed refugees and immigrants and grew rustrated that it’s usually the men who get to tell the family’s story. She also learned that in these situations, feminine hygiene products and basic necessities for women often aren’t taken or even considered. She reflects on her own experience in the culture she grew up in where it was “taboo to talk about sex, menstrual cycles, puberty” and how she wants to normalize those conversations so that women no longer feel ashamed.

She further displays this fearlessness in other works, such as bringing conversations about miscarriages to light. Having experienced miscarriages herself, she was frustrated with how women were blamed for “doing something wrong”. Another of her works addressed a now overturned “tempting eye law” put in place in Saudi Arabia that, if a woman’s eyes are too “tempting” they are violating the law and must wear a full veil. She defies this as well as a law prohibiting women from driving, by carving nine rear view mirrors that display beautiful and distinctly female eyes peering at the viewers.

Due to the constant aversion to discussing these topics that she was used to, she was surprised yet pleased with the supportive reaction in her home country when she began displaying her exhibits. As she continues with her work, she wants more than anything to continue to instigate these conversations that have been historically unacceptable and help women feel empowered rather than ashamed about things they have no control over.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Badass Womxn and Enbies in the Pacific Northwest Volume 2 Copyright © 2023 by Badass Zine Machine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.