The US Consulate in collaboration with the Meridian International Center has developed a two week program “Community Engagement- Art for Social Change”. Fourteen artists from Pakistan were selected from different cities of Pakistan to become a part of the program. All the artists were selected on the basis of their art works which they produced during a workshop of two days at Lahore and of one week at Islamabad in conversation with the Migration series by Jacob Lawrence, who is an American artist.
Being a part of this program is amongst one of the achievements in my life and it has provided me a big responsibility to represent my native land through my work and voice. Coming to Washington D.C was like being at home; some of the architectural buildings with the Greco-Roman influences seem very much familiar with the architecture build in the colonial period at different parts of Lahore and some other cities as well. The best part of the program was interactive sessions between the Pakistani voices and the team of professionals at the Meridian International Center and The Phillips Collection focusing on how art can be used for bringing social change in the community. Besides this the visit to different art museums like Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Community Museum, National Museum of Art, Museum of Air and space was a learned experience. Those art works which were assessable only through books and internet, standing in front of them and getting first-hand knowledge was like a dream come true. All the inspirational works by different artists and sculptures were on display, and the whole experience inspires me and motivates to explore more in my field of visual expression. The most interesting aspect about these museums were that they were free for all so that the people from whatever region, or community could easily visit the art spaces and get educated about the history of art till the contemporary age and how the time span and socio-political environment has contributed in the progression of art and has made it more conceptual.
Besides these museums in Washington DC, the visits to different historical places like White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Memorial of Vietnamese Veterans and Capital Building provides the historical background to understand the inside of the capital city, which was inspiring and also shares similarities with the historical narrative of Lahore with all such Architectural Monuments unveiling the inside of the city that has been a hub of artistic activities during different time periods like Mughal era and British Raj.