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Shahzia Sikander in "Spirituality"

Trained in the challenging discipline of Indian and Persian miniature painting, Shahzia Sikander has adapted an enduring artistic tradition to the task of questioning and exploring her Eastern heritage, its boundaries, and its liberating possibilities.

“My whole purpose of taking on miniature painting was to break the tradition, to experiment with it, to find new ways of making meaning, to question the relevance of it,” she says.

The segment traces the artist’s balancing act between studio and museum, small works and large-scale installations, Islamic faith and American attitudes towards Islam, and Sikander’s life in the United States and her family in Pakistan.

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Executive Producer: Susan Dowling. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Production Coordinator: Laura Recht. Researcher: Quinn Latimer & Wesley Miller. Director: Deborah Shaffer. Editor: Kate Taverna. Director of Photography: Bob Elfstrom, Ken Kobland, Joel Shapiro, & Dyanna Taylor. Additional Photography: Chip Nusbaum & Anita Sieff. Assistant Camera: Ulli Bonnekamp, John Griffiths, Glen Piegari, Kipjaz Savoie, & Ben Wolf. Sound: Ray Day, John Fintel, Alan Sawyer, Scott Szabo, J.T. Takagi, & Eric Williams. Gaffer/Grip: Steve Carrillo, Kent Eanes, Dennis Hollyfield, Greg Szabo, & Lieven Van Hulle. Production Assistant: Mark Chevarria, Anya Dehr-Turrell, Chris Dowling, Heather Glass, Melissa Morgan, & Erin Wile. Animation Stand Photographer: Marcos Levy & City Lights. Assistant Avid Editor: Heather Burak & Matt Prinzig.

Introductory Segment | Artwork: Beryl Korot. Cast: S. Epatha Merkerson.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Art Design and Direction: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Music Supervisor: John Yaffé. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack, New York. Post-Production Supervisor: Michael Weingrad & Keir Randall.

Artworks courtesy of: John Feodorov; Ann Hamilton; Shahzia Sikander; James Turrell; Deitch Projects; Whitney Museum of American Art; Lisa Sette Gallery; Sacred Circle Gallery/Daybreak Star; & Seattle Arts Commission. Archival photo of James Turrell courtesy of: Jeffery J. Kozera. Archival footage courtesy of: ZCZ Films Ltd.

Special Thanks: Anne C. Baker; Alison Beall; Michael Bond; The Brotman Family; William Bush; City Lights; Catherine Dee; Susan Delson; Krista Ferguson; Claudia Garthwait; Barbara Gladstone; Thomas G. Grace; Jill Hartz, Bayly Art Museum; Russell Hassell; Sean Kelly Gallery; Bruce Mac Corkindale; Cara Mertes; Margarita Moreno; Office of Housing, City of Seattle; Chris Pullman; Lyn Bolen Rushton; Sacred Circle Gallery/Daybreak Star; Azra Sikander; Gabe Silverman; Brooke Singer; Skystone Foundation; Tamberelli Video; Nancy Taylor; Darin Webb; & Whitney Museum @ Philip Morris.

Interns: Maytal Ahrony, Joyce Alcantara, Christina Darcy, Leslie Fritz, Johanna Goldfeld, Susannah Gust, Sage Lehman, Kelly McCoy, Genevieve Mercatante, Jeff Seelbach, & Stacy Wu.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

Major underwriting for Season 1 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by Robert Lehman Foundation, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, The Broad Art Foundation, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Bagley Wright Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and The Foundation-to-Life.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander specializes in Indian and Persian manuscript painting, a traditional, technique-driven style that Sikander imbued with a personal context and history, blending the Eastern focus on precision and methodology with a Western emphasis on creative, subjective expression. In doing so, Sikander transported manuscript painting into the realm of contemporary art. Expanding the manuscript painting to the wall, Sikander also creates murals and installations, using tissue-paper-like materials that allow for a more free-flowing style. Utilizing performance and various media and formats to investigate issues of border crossing, she seeks to subvert stereotypes of the East and, in particular, the Eastern Pakistani woman.

“One thing I’ve learned is respect for tradition and respect for patience. Time is the key.”

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

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Shahzia Sikander

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