Asma Sultana

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Asma Sultana is a multidisciplinary artist. To conceptualise her autobiographical work, she uses her hair and thumbprints as her media to explore her identity in time and space. Asma organised and curated many solo art exhibitions and participated in many group exhibitions in many different countries. She was featured in print and digital media—her work is in many private collections. In her diasporic identity, she is Bangladeshi-British and working in Toronto. She is trained in Fine Arts and Art History from Bangladesh, England, and Canada. She studies Art History at York University, Canada, and Oxford University, England.


Through my autobiographical work, I seek the certitude of my identity from the personal level to the universal- as a diasporic immigrant, displaced dreamer, and minority freethinker. My creative process is evolving around my quest to know myself, my culture, my country, the world, and the universe in which I was born and lived. I construct, deconstruct and reconstruct my life experiences in the East and the West. To conceptualise that, I use my uprooted hair as the thread to embroider or needlework and make dresses, patterns, and portraits. I use my thumbs and fingers instead of brushes or pencils to draw with ink on various surfaces.
Moreover, I employ used objects from my daily life and modify them by adding my discarded hair, which I have stored carefully. I wanted to give my biological existence a place in my art. The process of collecting, cleaning, and storing hair one by one is like a mindful ritual for me, carefully arranged activities like taking care of someone or something. Human hair is a filamentous biomaterial that contains dead cells and DNA; my hair contains my DNA, representing myself or my self-portrait. The way the hair falls from our body, leaves fall from the trees, and seeds dispersal for germination, migration, and displacement is happening in nature every moment; it is part of life.
Textile and embroidery are integral parts of Bangladeshi cultural heritage; Bengal textiles have had a rich history since the ear of the cabinet of curiosity. Many great museums display Bengal textile art; my work represents that part of ancestral identity with a contemporary twist. Long, dark black hair is a mandatory feature of female beauty in Bangladeshi culture; my grandmother, whom I had never seen since she died of childbirth, I inherited the quality of my hair from her; perhaps I decided to cherish that embroidery culture, and treasure the legacy of storytelling through my art. Characteristically, my work is multidisciplinary; I prefer to combine mediums, techniques, and concepts to convey the complexity of modern life in time and space.


Artist's hair, fabric and fabric hoop (framed).


My work is autobiographical. I use my hair to recreate certain past times or experiences of my life since hair contains my DNA, and DNA has my identity. My fondness for reading and learning different languages or writing poems influences my art sometimes. Post-COVID, my memory was not cooperating with me, and I have been dealing with issues with my physical brain and my memory cells, though I was proud to have an elephant memory. I created this piece in 2024 to depict the relationships between my memory and being bilingual, using Bangla and English simultaneously, the complexity of the human brain and expectations of modern urban life, where we are expected to remember everything, but often our brain rejects those expectations.

Asma Sultana


Acrylic on canvas.


Avijit Roy (12 September 1972- 26 February 2015) sacrificed his life to protect the freedom of speech of Bengali people. Islamists killed him for being an atheist and intellectual, those who prefer a different culture and language over our Bengali language and culture, the language we achieved 70 years ago in return for many sacrificed lives; moreover, they are trying hard to wipe out our identity. I created this piece in 2024 to pay tribute to Avijit Roy's sacrifice, who was my dear friend.

Asma Sultana