Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz is an artist deeply involved in an interdisciplinary drawing practice. Her work utilizes aspects of textile design, drawing, collage, papermaking, printmaking, and painting. Here she shares with us her thoughts about her evolving work and process.
Since 2010 my artwork has become increasingly concentrated on nostalgic, metaphorical and existential intersections of contemplative practice and the creative process. I often work in series that explore the subtle fluctuations of a focal object: for example, the many shapes formed by a single string of prayer beads, or a loom depicted at different moments of weaving or unraveling.
Diverse in form, my recent projects utilize artisanal materials like gold, indigo, mineral pigments, silk and handmade traditional papers. My imagery references complex crafted objects–anthropomorphic monoliths, embroidered robes, hand-formed prayer beads, woven carpets, architectural surfaces and looms–that recall the human body engaged in ritual acts. There is often a surprising mimetic dimension to my work. For example, my large collages on silk, composed through a meditative process of applying intricate hand-cut paper elements onto a hand-woven textile substrate, strongly resemble embroidery.
Philosophically and aesthetically I draw inspiration from pre-industrial material cultures that have associated skilled handwork with contemplative aspirations. These influences range from the austere material sensibility of the Shakers to the devotional imagination of Indo-Muslim South Asia, which I have embraced through marriage, family life and ten years of traveling frequently between the US and Pakistan.
In addition to being a meditative outlet I see my practice as a space in which the diverse experiences that inform my everyday life converge and reconcile.
Image credit: All images courtesy of Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz