Mariyah Shefa

Mariyah Shefa - BA (Hons) Art History and Curating

My practice as an art historian and curator lies in the themes around identity, culture and a sense of belonging. As a child of diaspora, being both Bengali and British, I tend to focus on concepts of intersectionality and viewing things from a different, broader perspective. Especially outside of the Eurocentric Western norms, and concentrating on the Global South. I respect artists who explore their lived experiences through migration, and art that rejects the fragmented and colonial gaze.

My passion has been heavily inspired by the works of Edward Said and Gilane Tawadros. I'm an avid reader of postcolonial theory, and Said's 'Orientalism' has really shaped my understanding as a writer within contemporary arts and visual culture. With an emphasis on the critical perspectives of historical power dynamics, cultural representation, and identity.

I believe writers, historians and curators must look beyond their comfort zones. As, Tawadros says, "Where once we read (and curated) from left to right, perhaps we now need to start reading from right to left?" I think about this question a lot. In my practice, I aim to initiate discussions about change inside the art space, shifts in approaches, within the context of curating and interpreting art. The need for re-evaluating practices, and physically engaging in alternative viewpoints in contemporary arts is so important.

For the Degree Show, I was part of a collective and we co-curated the exhibition: Making a Mark: Informed by Ink. As a curator and designer for the project, I created graphic outposts; social-media posts, posters, and a zine. It was beautiful to see artists being celebrated, sharing voices and, spaces amongst both the political and personal. As a curator, I appreciate that I was able to support the artists and assist in curating, a meaningful exhibition, weighted with unique experiences and values.