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Philbrook Brings The Wow Factor

Philbrook to host exhibition by prize-winning Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha

October 1, 2019 (Tulsa, Okla.) Acclaimed artist Anila Agha believes that art has the power to change lives and bring people together. Her work attempts to dissolve borders, both real and perceived.

Anila Quayyum Agha (American, b. Pakistan 1965). Intersections, 2014. Steel and halogen bulb, ed. 1/3, 78 x 78 x 78”. Courtesy of the artist and Talley Dunn Gallery. © Anila Agha. Photo: Debra Jenkins.

Agha’s groundbreaking installation “Intersections” appears as the centerpiece of the forthcoming Philbrook special exhibition Shadow of Time. On view November 10, 2019 – February 16, 2020.

One lightbulb sits in the center of a cube made with intricate laser-cut designs. Philbrook’s Helmerich gallery is filled with patterns and shadows, creating one unforgettable, awe-inspiring moment. This is the experience at the heart of “Intersections.”

This mind-blowing installation captured hearts and minds at the prestigious ArtPrize competition in 2014, taking home both public and juried awards. Shadow of Time also includes recent sculptural works and drawings.

Anila Quayyum Agha (American, b. Pakistan 1965). This is NOT a Refuge–1, 2018. Lacquered steel, aluminum, wood bench, and light bulb, 144 x 120 x 96”. Courtesy of the artist and Talley Dunn Gallery. © Anila Agha

Among these is This is NOT a Refuge, an outdoor sculptural installation with sound by Harrison Edwards that highlights the voices of immigrants and refugees to the United States, whose stories reveal their complex experiences of hope, uncertainty, humor, and struggle.

“Agha’s work is immediately appealing in its beauty and power, but it is also filled with layers of history, cultural references, and personal stories that reveal themselves more gradually,” says Philbrook Curator Sarah Lees.  “It’s the combination of visual and narrative richness that creates such an impact.”

Inspired by her personal history as a woman and an immigrant, Agha’s work transforms barriers traditionally used to separate people into art that brings them together. Growing up in her native Pakistan, Agha became familiar with the decorative patterns used in Islamic art, and now bases much of her work on them. She combines these patterns with simple, geometric shapes in large-scale installations and works on paper to create thought-provoking art that is powerful and delicate, minimal and richly decorative.

 “By using a variety of media, from large sculptural installations to embroidered drawings, I explore the deeply entwined political relationships among gender, culture, religion, labor, and social codes,” said Agha.

An opening artist conversation with Agha will take place on Sunday, November 10 at 2:00 p.m. in Philbrook’s Patti Johnson Wilson Hall. Seating is limited. Tickets available at

Fast Facts

Title: Shadow of Time: Anila Quayyum Agha

Dates: November 10, 2019 – February 16, 2020

Location: Philbrook (2727 S. Rockford Rd.)