Masuma Khwaja Halai
Artist, Curator, Art Educator
Senior artist and curator, with a strong network in the art community. Former Trustee/ Founder Member of The First Karachi Biennale Trust 2017, Masuma was the Chairperson of the Public Outreach Committee of the KBT for its first edition in 2017 and initiated the Reel On Hai project, which was one of the largest public art/ outreach programs in the country, aiming to convert a hundred empty discarded Cable reels into artworks through an open call to artists architects and designers who worked on site to engage the community living around the area.
Innovator and an enthusiastic promoter of Pakistani art and craft at varying platforms, Masuma has recently written a book about Public Art in Karachi, titled; ‘Public Art, Thriving in Urban Chaos’. She has forged strong links with established and emerging artists, public and private sector stake holders and the international art community.
Khwaja is also on the advisory committee for the ‘International Public Art Festival’ the first iteration of which was held in Karachi in March 2019.
As an artist and a graduate of Pakistan’s renowned National College of Arts, Lahore, Masuma has held five solo exhibitions at leading galleries in Pakistan. She has also exhibited her work at the 9th and 10th editions of the Fibre Art Biennale ‘From Lausanne To Beijing’ in Shenzhen and Beijing, The First Art Embroidery Biennial in Chouzhou and The Dafen Art Biennale in Shenzhen. Her work has also been part of prestigious art shows and art fairs like Nord Art Germany, and South Asian American Art Festival in Pasadena, and many more Her trajectory has always revolved around fabric and textiles. In her most recent work she employs kilims carpets and embroideries from Pakistan and the region to reference physical and virtual invasions.
She has won many awards, the most recent being The Excellence award at the 9th Fiber Art Biennale in Shenzhen China in 2016.
Masuma has worked with Trade and Development Corporation of Pakistan (TDAP) to set up art exhibits during their trade shows in Belgium and Sri Lanka.
She has also been a panelist at talks in forums such as T2F (‘The Peace Niche’) Karachi Literature Festival and the Habib University.
Masuma has also been a mentor to many emerging, young artists both in a formal and informal capacity. As a Coordinator for History and Heritage Program at the National College of Arts Lahore, she traced Pakistan’s rich heritage and led the effort to incorporate it in both classic as well as experimental art, she also invited subject experts to engage with the student body, to provide them with greater access to leading artists and learning to produce critique worthy portfolios.
She has also taught visual art at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, (where she was also the thesis advisor for two years)and The Karachi University Visual Studies Department.