Ambreen Butt

Ambreen Butt, Daughter of the East (set of 5), 2008
Six plate aquatint etchings with chine collé, dry point, and spit bite
Plate size: 13 x 18 inches
Paper size: 25 x 19 inches
Edition of 30
Printed and published by Wingate Studio
Ambreen Butt is a Pakistani-American artist based in Boston, MA. Much of her work contains autobiographical elements through her use of self portraiture and themes that refer both to her childhood in Pakistan as well as her relationship to her home country as an American citizen. She was trained in Indian miniature painting in Lahore, lending her work its highly detailed and decorative aspects. Through this visual language, she explores the juxtaposition of beauty and violence, vulnerability and power, difficulty and ease.

During her first collaboration with Wingate Studio, Ambreen created a set of 5 narrative works entitled Daughter of the East in 2008. Part of a body of work entitled Dirty Pretty, this set of prints arose from the artist’s experience returning to Pakistan in 2007–her first visit
in 12 years. In particular, this work is a reaction to the highly complicated event referred to as the Seige of Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad, which occured from July 3 to 11, 2007. During the seige, the Pakistani government raided the Red Mosque complex, whose students and mosque leaders challenged the Pakistani government and practiced radical religious teachings. When negotiations with the mosque leaders failed, the complex was stormed by the Pakistani Army’s Special Services Group, resulting in 248 people injured, over 100 deaths, and 50 captures. While at least 30 women and children were able to escape unharmed, many were reported to have been used as sheilds by their male allies and were killed or injured.

Each of the five works explores the vulnerability, violence, strength, and resilience of the women in this situation, as well as the artist’s emotional reaction to this extremely complex event. While the decorative elements form a delicate and beautiful whole, they are composed of symbols relating to fear and violence, evoking the artist’s personal experience and the dichotomies that belie her work.

About the artist

Ambreen Butt (b. Lahore, Pakistan) is a Pakistani-American artist who lives and works in Dallas, TX. She was trained in traditional Persian miniature painting, which continues to deeply inform her labor-intensive work even as the scale of her pieces has continued to grow, and now includes large-scale installations. Her work explores themes of feminism, political conflict, extremism, and the tension and interdependence of seemingly opposing forces like innocence and guilt, terror and seduction. Her work has been exhibited widely and is in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Library of Congress, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, National Museum for Women in the Arts, Worcester Art Museum, Hood Museum, and DeCordova Sculpture Park. She received her training in Indian and Persian Miniature Painting from the National College of Arts in Lahore and received her MFA from MassArt.