- The artwork, illustrated by New York-based guest artist Tara Anand, captures the use of minimalist abstract and geometric shapes to explore concepts of home, displacement, borders, and memory.
If you used the Google search engine on July 16, chances are you saw an art piece and a photo honoring Indian American artist and printmaker Zarina Hashmi on what would have been her 86th birthday. She is widely recognized as “one of the most significant artists associated with the minimalist movement,” according to a Google readout. She died on April 25, 2020, in London.
The Google artwork, illustrated by New York-based guest artist Tara Anand,“captures Hashmi’s use of minimalist abstract and geometric shapes to explore concepts of home, displacement, borders, and memory,” the readout adds.
Born on July 16, 1937, in Aligarh, Hashmi’s family stayed in India till 1947, until the Partition. Her family was forced to flee to Karachi in the newly formed Pakistan.
At 21, she married Saad Hashmi, a young foreign service diplomat and began traveling the world. She spent time in Bangkok, Paris, and Japan, where she became immersed in printmaking and art movements like modernism and abstraction. She moved to New York City in 1977. The same year, her husband passed away at the age of 45 while on a trip to Delhi, according to her website.
A strong advocate for women and artists of color, Hashmi soon joined the Heresies Collective, a feminist publication that explored the intersection of art, politics, and social justice. She went on to teach at the New York Feminist Art Institute, which provided equal education opportunities for female artists. In 1980, she co-curated an exhibition at A.I.R. Gallery called “Dialectics of Isolation: An Exhibition of Third World Women Artists of the United States,” which showcased “work from diverse artists and provided a space for female artists of color,” Google said.
Hashmi did not have any children but treated her sister Rani’s children as her own. “Saima and Imran have always been very close to Zarina and lovingly called her ‘Munni Ami,’ which means ‘Little Mother,’” her website says.
A part of the Minimalism Art movement, Hashmi became internationally known for her striking woodcuts and intaglio prints that combine semi-abstract images of houses and cities where she had lived. Her work often contained inscriptions in her native Urdu, and geometric elements inspired by Islamic art.
According to her website, “family has been the cornerstone” of her inspirations. One of her most personal and iconic pieces of artwork titled “Letters from Home,” is “a compilation of six unposted letters written by her sister to her. “The letters recounted the death of their parents, the selling of Rani’s home, the sadness she felt after her children moved away, and how much she missed Zarina’s presence throughout those trying times,” her website says.
Hashmi’s art can be seen in permanent collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other distinguished galleries.