Directions to My House

Published by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU

Published by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU

Directions to My House chronicles the fascinating life of Zarina Hashmi in her own words and images. Beginning in pre-Partition India, Zarina describes a traditional Muslim home in the small university town of Aligarh, India, the fragrant, enclosed, garden planted by her mother, Partition through the eyes of a ten-year old girl, coming of age in Paris in the 1960s, the art communities in the various cities she called home, and her current reflections on claiming New York as a home for the last forty years. Through Zarina’s essays, poems, artworks and personal photographs, readers will be guided through the events and experiences that shaped Zarina’s unique aesthetic.

Zarina Hashmi was the 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence at the A/P/A Institute at NYU. This book project was a part of her residency.


About Zarina Hashmi
The work of Zarina is defined by her adherence to the personal and the essential. An early interest in architecture and mathematics is reflected in her use of geometry and her emphasis on structural purity. While her work tends towards minimalism, its starkness is tempered by its texture and materiality. Her art poignantly chronicles her life and recurring themes include home, displacement, borders, journey and memory.

Best known as a printmaker, Zarina prefers to carve instead of draw the line, to gouge the surface rather than build it up. She has used various mediums of printmaking including intaglio, woodblocks, lithography, and silkscreen, and she frequently creates series of several prints in order to reference a multiplicity of locales or concepts. For example, her seminal work Home is a Foreign Place consists of 36 woodblock prints, each of which represents a particular memory of home. Each subject is inscribed in Urdu beneath the print to signify the vital role language plays in her work, as well as to pay homage to a mother tongue in decline. Other works such as These Cities Blotted into the Wilderness (Adrienne Rich after Ghalib), Countries, and Dividing Line explore geographical borders and contested terrains, particularly those areas which are scarred from political conflict. She has long been interested in the material possibilities of paper and in addition to printing on it, she has created works which entail puncturing, scratching, weaving and sewing on paper. Zarina also creates sculpture using a variety of media such as bronze, aluminum, steel, wood, tin, and paper pulp.

Zarina (b. 1937) was born in Aligarh, India and currently lives and works in New York. After receiving a degree in mathematics, she went on to study woodblock printing in Bangkok and Tokyo, and intaglio with S. W. Hayter at Atelier-17 in Paris. She has exhibited at numerous venues internationally including representing India at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and her retrospective exhibition entitled Zarina: Paper Like Skin was presented at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in 2012, and at the Guggenheim, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, London; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Menil Collection, Houston.

About Sarah Burney
Sarah Burney (b. 1985) was born in Maryland and currently lives and works in New York City. Raised between Kuwait and Pakistan, she is a curator and writer with a focus on South Asian and Middle Eastern contemporary art, emerging NYC artists, and contemporary printmaking. Burney graduated from Wellesley College, and worked with Zarina Hashmi, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Bodhi Art, and Burney Morgan Art Advisory prior to becoming a full- time curator and writer. She was on the board of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective from 2014-16.

Sarah Burney