Saberah Malik is a contemporary process artist deeply connected to the potential and integrity of her materials. She has a reputation of experimentation as a maker of emotive fabric sculptures. This autumn, the artist exhibits textile projects influenced by her Muslim and Pakistani-American background at Atrium Gallery and AS220’s Project Space in Providence, Rhode Island.
The Atrium Gallery show, which runs from September 22 through November 10, exhibits Malik’s work in a group context juried by Rhode Island School of Design Museum Director John Smith. The exhibition has been organized by More than My Religion to counter today’s climate of backlash against Muslims. As one of many artists invited to participate, Malik said she was honored to have been selected and noted, “I am very committed to the effort, philosophy and drive behind this series [of exhibitions].” The reception for the show at Atrium Gallery is planned for Thursday, October 16 from 6 to 8:30pm as part of Gallery Night Providence.
For the exhibition, Malik plans a site-specific wall installation composed of 20 two-dimensional, hand-dyed shibori textile sections. She will mount these as a grid on existing interior windowpanes to look free-floating while also adhered to the architectural element. The effect will be the impression of a sheer fabric scrim, which has the illusion of form. Vertically hanging fabric parts will visually coalesce as a chevron of color to frame the Atrium space.
With this project, Malik’s finesse with the traditional shibori fabric dying technique is blended with a western contemporary minimalist construct. The fabric sections are meticulously patterned, hand-dyed and sheer, and will present to audiences a transition of light east to west that will be further informed by shadows of passing office workers that occasionally will be visible from behind. As a completed work, Malik wants the installation to create a moment of pure positivity.
Across town at AS220’s Project Space, Malik’s solo exhibition shares a different side of her art-making by featuring three-dimensional fabric constructions, on view from October 6 through 27. Exhibition openings at AS220’s Project Space are typically packed; Malik’s takes place on October 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. In contrast to the frenzy of an opening night, during regular gallery hours the space is quiet. Malik has considered both of these viewing conditions in regard to displaying her work. It will be a spare, airy gallery dynamic so that the three-dimensional fabric constructions in the gallery have breathing room when the gallery space is crowded. A clean and lean approach will also allow audiences on quiet days to focus on the subtle characteristics of the individual artworks.
The aesthetic Malik explores in the works chosen for her AS220 show embrace the idea of art as intimate object. Her conceptual direction focuses attention on what she sees as the gift of peace and contentment that she personally has found as a wife and mother. The show is basically a multi-generational love letter from her heart to those of others.