Mequitta Ahuja is the recipient of the 2018 Guggenheim fellowship award. She studied at Hampshire College (BA,1998) and the University of Illinois (MFA,2003). Ahuja’s works have been widely exhibited in institutions and galleries including Brooklyn Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Saatchi Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Pensylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Crystal Bridges, Baltimore Museum of Art, Grand Rapids Art Museum and The Phillips Collection, DC (2020). In 2019, due to an illness in the family, Ahuja relocated from Baltimore, Maryland to her hometown of Weston, Connecticut.
“Whip-smart and languorous” is how the July 24, 2017 issue of the New Yorker described a large-scale painting then on view at the New York Asia Society Museum. Ahuja is the recipient of the 2018 Guggenheim fellowship award. She holds an MFA from the University of Illinois and she has focused her career efforts on museum exhibitions, such as: Portraiture Now at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Marks of Genius at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, State of the Art at Crystal Bridges, Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum, The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem and Riffs and Relations at The Phillips Collection in DC. Mequitta has been an artist in residence at the Core Program, the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Siena Art Institute in Siena, Italy and at the Dora Maar House in Menerbes, France. Mequitta’s work has appeared in Modern Painters and the New York Times. In 2010, she was featured in ArtNews as “An Artist to Watch.” On June 1st, 2007, Holland Cotter of the New York Times, sighting Mequitta’s NY debut exhibition stated, “Referring to the artist’s African-American and East Indian background, the pictures turn marginality into a regal condition.” In 2019, due to an illness in the family, Ahuja relocated from Baltimore to her home in Weston.
Responding to the history of Black hair as a barometer of social and personal consciousness, I make the image of hair both physical and conceptual, showing the psychic proportions hair has in the lives of Black people. I invert the head. Through this disorientation, I signal a shift from the actual to the imagined, concrete realism to abstract thought. In both painting and drawing, I use the space of hair as a vehicle for infinite possibilities of becoming. Proposing imagination as a primary tool of transformation and self-empowerment, my works demonstrate female self-invention and self-representation through the deployment of her own tools.
— Statement from the artist