Location: Milwaukee, WI
Featured Work: We Are Life Too
Describe your featured work
This is a very personal photograph. I took it the first year I started photography. Looking at and capturing the wide range of emotions in these people in my home country, Pakistan, helped define the themes I have carried inside myself. So very early I developed this desire to create compelling and aesthetic documents of the people around me and to capture human emotions. I believe the human face is the greatest of landscapes to capture. Looking at my early photographs, a wonderful photographer who now lives in Rwanda advised me, “Connect your compassionate heart with your sensitive eye, and find a way to merge the two”. The photo reminds me to keep doing that.
Every individual photograph and every series in my body of work expresses a variation on my overarching theme, “God at ‘I’ Level.” I am always exploring the question of connection—or lack of it—in society: our connection with the Creator, God; our connection with the person standing in front of us; our connection with the words “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and the artist’s connection with the work created.
My work consists almost entirely of photographs of people. They tell a story—not just of a moment, not just of a superficial expression. In each photograph, I bring to my audience what God’s eye sees, beyond the frame of flesh, beyond what social media allows us to see. The stories reflect God’s color, light, perception, and eternal vision.
What are you making now?
For last couple of years, my main focus is on photographing immigrants (refugees and asylum seekers) moving to the United States. I am trying to travel and collect portraits and stories all over the U.S. I have been collaborating with a poet friend, Mari Chevako, to produce a series of photographs and poetry, in which the photographs focus on the people who have come to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers and in which the poems reflect on the tensions we encounter when we welcome strangers. My goal is to produce a volume of work around the theme of new Americans and the idea of home.
Besides collaborating with Mari Chevako, I am inspired by another poet, Mary Oliver, who has said that “Attention without feeling… is only a report.” I want to produce work which is not just a report.
Why do you belong to CIVA?
I belong to CIVA to connect and build relationships with other Christian artists, and to learn and grow with the CIVA community. CIVA has enabled me to meet and connect with friends and enjoy being close to them in Milwaukee and Madison.
Born and raised in Pakistan, I have been doing portrait and documentary photography for the last seven years. I moved to the United States in 2012 for graduate studies and am now living and working in Wisconsin. I started photography in 2011 by focusing on religious and minority groups in Pakistan and neighboring countries. I also focus on photographing culture and sports which are dying in Pakistan. I have exhibited both in Pakistan and the United States.