Artist StatementBased in Mumbai, Sabiha Dohadwala approaches textile as a site of integrating and disintegrating memories, images, and histories. Her works address the human tendency to forget over time and advocate a renewed way of understanding memory. Dohadwala captures cultural histories and lived experiences through the act of weaving. The tactile materiality of textile is ingrained with acts of remembering in the face of erasure.
BiographyDohadwala has a BFA with an emphasis in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has previously worked as a Collections and Exhibitions Assistant at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago, US, and at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. She worked closely with historic textiles at the Art Institute of Chicago and as a Textile Designer for BiYuu, Mexico City.
Q&A with Sabiha
Why did you choose textiles/weaving as the medium for your art? What drew you to this often underappreciated technique and why is it the appropriate "language" for your artistic goals?
Weaving is emotional, it captures the histories of our ancestors that spun stories into cloth.
Weaving is tactile, when you weave your body touches every element of the textile.
Weaving is meditative, a weaver sits on the loom and develops a rhythm with the machine, the body and loom work in harmony.
The weaver leaves their mark onto the work they produce.
This is what drew me to the medium. It helped me feel as though I could embed my memories into cloth and pass them on, thus making them exist forever.
Who or what has been your biggest influence as an artist?
I am influenced by people’s histories and the society in which we live. I look into traditions, myths or old crafts techniques that better inform my practice.
Artists such as Sheila Hicks, Annie Albers, Elana Herzog, Faig Ahmed and Monica Correa have greatly influenced the way in which I think the malleability of cloth can be used to come off the wall and expand the boundaries of my art.
What does a day in your studio look like?
I like to start my day with research,this could include looking at guide books, looking up a new weaving techniques or catching myself up with news from the art world. These serve as a great source of inspiration.
I plan a lot when it comes to weaving so I make lots of notes and drawings of weaving drafts to help guide me.
If I am in the process of creating a new weave, the first few days are spent setting up the threads on the loom as this process is extremely labourious and there are quite a few steps involved. Music keeps me great company during this time.
I reserve a few hours a day to do admin work and general studio upkeep. This is also a time I get to take a break and take stock of what I have. My studio is filled with tools and materials that I have collected over travels and these often help me decide what to make next.
Memory is a big part of your work. Why is this aspect of humanity important to you and what do you hope to say about it through your work?
I believe that memory is what is constantly influencing us. What we choose to remember shapes our narratives, it gives us a sense of belonging, it helps anchor ourselves to a certain place in time.
I want my work to capture the way in which we experience the world, how we move around within and understand it. I hope to convey how personal memories could also be a very collective experience and in doing that maybe strengthen our sense of community.