Pakistani-American Artist Emmen Ahmed Uses Portraiture to Unpick Her Culture

Pakistani-American Artist Emmen Ahmed Uses Portraiture to Unpick Her Culture

Looking at Emmen Ahmed’s artwork, you wouldn’t know she’s only been using the platform for a few years. Contrasting bold colours with dynamic figures and oftentimes quirky props, she brings a real humanism to portraiture.

Born in Chicago, Ahmed is an ethnic Pakistani with a degree in medical anthropology from Michigan State University. It was there that she founded the Pakistani Student Association (PSA). In her own words, “My college is predominantly white and Republican but…I found a really good network of South Asians in college, and I took the opportunities in college classes to expand my knowledge.”

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According to Ahmed, art was always her thing, but

“I saw it as my side talent…I didn’t really think of it too much as a legitimate career path.”

She’s been making art all her life. But, indeed, it was only when she bought an iPad Pro a few years prior that she started dabbling in patterns and then “eventually grew into making whole figures.”

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Included in Ahmed’s very aesthetically pleasing instagram feed is a picture of a lilac custom made jumper with a hand-stitched Pakistan flag in the centre. Out of the flag grow tiny flowers. This is symbolic of the 23 year-old artist’s work: focused but still ruminative, a quiet message perched between the vibrant colours.

 
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Follow Emmen Ahmed’s artwork on Instagram @emmenjaan

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