The “Cartographic Dreams” of Artist and SVA Alumnus Nadia Haji Omar

New York’s Jerry Saltz wrote that Omar’s canvases “visually buzz like a hummingbird.”

May 21, 2018 by Kristin L. Wolfe
An untitled acrylic and dye painting by SVA alumnus Nadia Haji Omar.
<p "="">Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.<br>

Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.

The canvases of Nadia Haji Omar′s (MFA 2014 Fine Arts) are bright and complex, and enhanced by her experimentation with dyes, inks and acrylics. Looking at the works for her second solo show at Kristen Lorello Gallery in Manhattan, on view through Friday, May 25, one cannot help but try to decipher their patterns or visual language, not to mention their inspiration.

Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.
Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.

Omar currently lives and works in Warren, a small town in Rhode Island not far from Providence’s thriving arts scene. She moved there from New York City in 2016 with her boyfriend, who is also an artist and now an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. The relocation was, in part, inspired by a desire to be away from the city’s grind and closer to nature. But, she admits, ”I’m still not fully committed to not being in New York. It’s as if I’m treating my time in Rhode Island like a residency.”

Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.
Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.

As with a residency, Omar has made the most of her time in Warren thus far. ”There is less of the frantic energy and pace [here] as in New York. And a special combination of a slower pace, space and time to create, thus, the possibility to engage on a deeper level.“ Freed of New York City’s ever-climbing cost of living, she has dedicated herself to painting full time.

Aa, is on view through July in the campus’s Reilly Gallery.

Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.
Nadia Haji Omar, untitled, 2016, acrylic and dye on canvas. Photo by Jeffrey Sturges, courtesy Kristen Lorello Gallery.

A version of this article appears in the spring 2018 issue of the Visual Arts Journal.