Zarina Hashmi: The Indian-American Artist Who Touched Many Hearts

Zarina Hashmi was an Indian American artist based in New York City. She was known for her unique art styles of using different mediums of drawings, printmaking, and sculpture. Additionally, her artwork was known for causing an emotional and spiritual reaction within her audience members. 

Zarina Hashmi was born July 16, 1937, in Aligarh, India. Through her journey in education, she earned a degree in mathematics from the Aligarh Muslim University in 1958. Many years later, she pursued a lifestyle of exploring many different artworks in Bangkok, Thailand, Tokyo, Japan, and at a studio in Paris. While traveling, she was introduced to Japanese woodblock printing and continued to advance her skills. She even learned how to do silkscreen printing, and through her extraordinary work, she was given an award from the Japan Grant Foundation. Then, she started taking more lessons as an apprentice under Toshi Yoshida and would include many Islamic artworks in her pieces to showcase her background. 

As mentioned earlier, Zarina majored in mathematics and initially hoped to become an engineer. However, after some consideration, she later discovered that she was more into the drawing aspect of those fields. To help further her pursuit of the arts, she wanted to find a place home to such opportunities. Thus, she decided to move to America, as she claimed, “I wouldn’t have been able to do or live the way I have in any other country. I decided to make America my home; looking back, I think it was the best decision at the time. America does provide you with opportunities, you can be who you are or make your own identity. You can be yourself.” 

Through her artworks, she impacted many people as she explored the idea of movement, sometimes even diaspora, and her notion of the idea of home. As Hashmi stated for her residency at The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University, “I do not feel at home anywhere, but the idea of home follows me wherever I go. In dreams and on sleepless nights, the fragrance of the garden, image of the sky, and the sound of language returns. I go back to the roads I have crossed many times. They are my companions and my sola.”

The Famous Pieces of Zarina Hashmi

Hashmi would use many geometric shapes and even architectural drawings, especially since she was very interested in cities and their layouts. Some of her famous pieces include “Home is a Foreign Place,” “Tears of Sea,” & “Letter From Home.” All of those pieces involve the usage of geometric shapes and the underlying message of her feeling of being away from home, but also not at the same time.

Below are the illustrations of each one of the pieces mentioned: 

Unfortunately, on April 25, 2020, Zarina Hashmi died in London from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. All we can hope is that Hashmi found her meaning of “home” through her art pieces, as she has touched many hearts through her work. 

Works Cited 

Nambiar, Sridevi. “Zarina Hashmi and the idea of home.” Sarmaya, 16 September 2021, Accessed 31 August 2023.

Hashmi, Zarina. “Zarina Hashmi | Letters from Home (2004) | MutualArt.” Mutual Art, 11 June 2014, Accessed 31 August 2023.

Zarina Hashmi – Artist Biography, Paintings, Artworks, Auction Records, Accessed 31 August 2023.

Zarina Hashmi (1937-2020) | Artist | New York, Accessed 31 August 2023.