“Standing Under Our Ancestors:
Understanding Our Mother”
A Recitation | Charleston, SC | 2021
As part of FSA’s inaugural program “Reflections on Contemporary Art and Faith” at the College of Charleston on November 1, 2021, artist Amina Ahmed delivered a poignant recitation, “Standing Under Our Ancestors: Understanding Our Mother,” which considered the revered role of the Virgin Mary in Islam – just days after her own beloved mother Zulekha’s passing. In the video iteration below, Ahmed re-performs her presentation script, but this time with her voice-over paired with filmed footage of her late mother cooking, sewing, folding, praying, and other activities. Ahmed juxtaposes images of her drawings with serene clips of nature; both echo each other in pattern and shape. Offering an utterly personal meditation on the spiritual role of mothers, this intimate video is in essence Ahmed’s poetic and philosophical reflection on her mother’s transition from this life to the next. Capturing beauty, grief and memory in her process of ruminating on the significance of mothers in light of the Divine Mother — the sacred role of Mary in Islam and the melding of her spiritual and artistic journeys as one — Ahmed utilizes sacred geometry to visually portray the interconnected realities of our metaphysical relations to one another.
Born in East Africa, of Kutchi-Indian Turkiq and Nubian heritage, Amina Ahmed grew up in England and has lived in Iran and the USA. She specialized in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts at The Royal College of Art (1991).
Born in East Africa, of Kutchi-Indian Turkiq and Nubian heritage, Amina Ahmed grew up in England and has lived in Iran and the USA. She specialized in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts at The Royal College of Art (1991). Ahmed is represented by Jhaveri Contemporary. Ahmed practices geometry, her work continually referencing folk art and “geometry in nature.” She explores the landscape between the heart, the tree, the mind, rhythm, and pattern, with inter-connective-ness. Ahmed’s practice of geometry grounds her drawings, and praxis is the primordial artery through which she strives to practically return—physically, symbolically, and spiritually. “I seek to remember who we are […] to be whole and learn how we are part of this universal language,” she says. “The outward process, the practice of making, the alchemy of preparation of materials and arriving at, is an inward journey.” Ahmed’s work explores intertextuality as a transposition of elements into a field of remembering. This field of transmission carries various relations of displacement as well as processes of transition and transformation. She is a forest walker.
Image Caption: Amina Ahmed, “Circle Square Triangle,” 2020. Gum tempera on paper.