Intersections – An award winning shadow sculpture by a Pakistani

4 min


Intersections (2014) – An award winning shadow sculpture


Intersections was inspired by Agha’s (the artist) visit to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage site where visitors can marvel at interiors in which every surface is covered with the complex, interlacing designs of Islamic art.


Agha used light and cast shadow to transform Rice Gallery into a place that alludes to Masajid; Islamic sacred spaces with dense with geometric ornamentation and pattern.


Agha spellbinds us to the magnificence of her art as the shadows cast a spell on the spectators.

She creates a scintillating piece of art that provokes nothing but admiration from the viewer. She has re created her masterpiece in many cities across the globe.


The beauty of these spaces caused Agha to reflect upon her childhood in Lahore – Pakistan, where women were excluded from the mosque and instead prayed at home. She says, she was devoid of a center of  creativity and community.

She says of her Alhambra experience, “To my amazement [I] discovered the complex expressions of both wonder and exclusion that had been my experience while growing up.”

Agha translated these contradictory feelings into her installation, Intersections, by creating a space of her own – one that is open to all. She used simple means to dramatic effect: a single, bright light suspended from the ceiling shines through an intricately laser-cut box made from wood and painted black.

a single, bright light suspended from the ceiling shines through an intricately laser-cut box made from wood and painted black.

Each side of this cube is same, repeating a symmetrical pattern Agha designed, by combining and adapting different decorative elements she saw at the Alhambra. The geometric shapes and lines become shadows that cover the gallery walls, floor and ceiling, even gallery visitors.

Within Intersections, no clear boundary or separation exists; our moving bodies change the nature of the pattern as we walk freely through its dense silhouette.

About the Artist:

Anila Quayyum Agha was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1965. She received her BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore and an MFA in Fiber Arts from the University of North Texas in 2001. She has had solo exhibitions in the United States, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Anila Quayyum Agha

Agha is currently an associate professor of drawing at the Herron School of Art & Design at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. In 2014, ‘Intersections‘ won the international art competition – Artprize twice over with the Public Vote Grand Prize and the Juried Grand Prize, first time ever in Artprize’s history.

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Osama Saeed

Writer at Dailypunch. Views are my own.