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Humaira Abid: Searching for Home

Curator: Jennifer-Navva Milliken

February 7 – October 3, 2020

From left to right:
Searching for Home, 2016-17, Pine wood, carved; red wood stain; Photo: Adeel Ahmed
Letters from Home, 2019, Pine; Photo: Addel Ahmed
Lujain, Age 11, Zara, Syria, 2017, Gouache, 24-karat gold leaf, and pigments on handmade wasli paper, shown unframed (from the Fragments of Home Left Behind series); Portrait scanned  by Belleveue Fine Art Reproduction, LLC
The World Is NOT Perfect, 2014-17, Pine, mahogany,and tulip wood, carved; red wood stain, wire, epoxy putty, paint; Photo: Emilie Smith

Photo of Humaira Abid by Amber Hammad

Searching for Home is the first solo museum exhibition for Seattle-based, Pakistan-born artist Humaira Abid. Abid is well known for her unique visual language, which blends the discipline of traditional Mughal miniature painting and sculpture in wood. Her career-long decision to specialize in woodcarving, a male-dominated field, reflects her commitment to challenging stereotypes. The beauty and mastery of Abid’s to-scale carvings of seemingly benign objects, ripe with subtext, belie the violence, cruelty, upheaval, and instability in society, especially that to which women are subject.

First shown at Bellevue Arts Museum, Searching for Home presents a human-scaled look at the worldwide refugee crisis focusing on the plight of women and girls, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the millions of people who have fled their home countries as a result of political conflict and strife, ethnic cleansing and persecution, domestic abuse, climate change and natural disasters, and crimes against humanity. Searching for Home presents works by the artist that were created following months of research and interviews with refugee women who have been resettled in both the Pacific Northwest and Pakistan from nations including Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan.

The works in Searching for Home demonstrate the artist’s ability to tread a narrow line between evocative (and often provocative) content and mastery in a material discipline. The Center for Art in Wood’s presentation includes never-before-seen works that reflect the lack of resolution that impacts an increasing percentage of the world’s population. Among them, an interactive piece invites the visiting public to participate in storytelling and the sharing of personal narratives.

Searching for Home was organized by Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA.
A publication complimenting the exhibition will be available for purchase.




First Fridays | Feb 7, March 6, April 3 | 5 – 9 PM at the Center
Gallery talk with the artist and curator | Fri, Feb 7 | 6 – 7 PM followed by opening reception at the Center
A Conversation with Humaira Abid, Jennifer-Navva Milliken Artistic Director, (The Center for Art in Wood), and Jodi Throckmorton, Curator of Contemporary Art (PAFA) | Sat, February 8 | 3:30 – 4:30 PM Arts | $15, free for members of the Center and PAFA at the Rhoden Arts Center, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts
Young Artist Speakers Series: Wit Lopez | Wed, March 4 | 6 – 8 PM at the Center
International Women’s Day at the Center | Sat, March 7 | 2 – 4 PM at the Center
Artist Talk: Humaira Abid | Thurs, April 16 | 4 PM live on ZOOM | RSVP to [email protected]
Closing Event for Searching for Home | Sat, July 25, 2020 | 2 – 4 PM at the Center

For more information please contact Katie Sorenson, at 215-923-8000, or [email protected].

The exhibition program at the Center is generously supported by members of the Cambium Giving Society of the Center for Art in Wood, the Bresler Family Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, William Penn Foundation, and Windgate Foundation. Corporate support is provided by Boomerang, Inc., Penn State Industries, and Sun-Lite Corporation. 



Program support for Searching for Home at the Center for Art in Wood is provided by Jane and Joe Goldblum, and the immigration law firm of Goldblum & Pollins.

In-kind support for the exhibition is provided by Helen Williams Drutt English and Lorna and Arnon Dreyfuss.

Humaira Abid: Searching for Home was organized by Bellevue Arts Museum and curated by Jennifer-Navva Milliken. Works in this exhibition were made possible in part by grants to the artist from 4Culture and Artist Trust, with support from Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) of Seattle.

This is a recorded panel discussion, hosted by the Center’s Artistic Director Jennifer-Navva Milliken,  with Searching for Home artist Humaira Abid, Dana Gold of Nationalities Service Center, Anne Ishii of Asian Arts Initiative, and Hazami Sayed of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture. The discussion includes an examination of the contributions made by immigrants to Philadelphia’s rich culture, the situation faced by immigrants and refugees during COVID-19, and how the pandemic makes it easy to overlook the vulnerable and unprotected.