Taiyaba Ahmed | Episode 932

Taiyaba Ahmed is a Multicultural Fellow for NCECA. I am so thankful I got to meet Taiyaba while I was at NCECA and we decided to meet at a coffee shop first thing in the morning… 7:30! The sun wasn’t even up yet! So we were a little groggy. A tea and coffee and a light pastry came to the rescue to give us the energy to have a coherent conversation. Taiyaba is our first guest from Pakistan and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.

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What was the process like for applying for the fellowships? Was it simple, difficult, intimidating?

It was fairly simple. I think it was back in September or October when I applied for it, a very simple process. I filled out a form, I sent a couple of images of my work and then I forgot about it because there were thousands of people attending NCECA and there were thousands of people who apply for these, but I got lucky. I’m just so happy that I got it.

What is the commitment for fulfilling the fellowship? What do you have to do for the fellowship when you show up?

So basically they had us come here. this year I think there are 21 people who got the multicultural fellowship. There are actually a couple of different categories, there’s multicultural fellowship,  there’s emerging artists category. This year they have started a couple of new categories as well. But it’s all about inclusiveness and bringing people from underrepresented communities together.

Now that you are a part of the fellowship how are you being represented by NCECA now?

So one of things that NCECA did for the fellowship recipients was they brought us here together and then they are arranging for tours to exhibitions. We got to meet Roberto Lugo and spend time with him and met him and yesterday we went to a couple of other galleries. We saw the work of the emerging artists this year, we saw their exhibition and not just their exhibition but the multicultural fellowship recipients from previous years. And I hope to apply for that next year so I can be part of that exhibition.

So this year you have no work on display but the hope is next year you will.

Correct. So this time we got to attend it and then for next year we will be eligible to apply for that.

What does this kind of support mean to you personally?

You know, I want to see more people from Pakistan. I actually don’t know anyone and if there is any potter from Pakistan please get in touch with me. I would love to connect.

Yes. 

You know what. There are people from Egypt who are attending, there are people from The Philippines who are here, people from Iran who are here, and I would love to see more people from Pakistan to apply for this fellowship and to come. I don’t know a single potter from Pakistan in Austin. I have a lot of Indian friends but nobody from Pakistan. It means so much to me to be here. I don’t know, maybe I am the first Pakistanis that got this fellowship. I could be wrong. I just don’t know, but I would love to connect with them. And it just means so much to represent my country.

Where I come from I see a lot of  “mes” walking around. What’s it like seeing another “me” or see a lack of “mes” there?

So to me there are people like me and there are potters from Pakistan but I think it’s all about putting yourself out there more. Right? And connecting more. This community is extremely welcoming so I would love to see more people come out and just connect.

What has been your favorite experience of NCECA?

Meeting Paul Blais. (laughter)

Get out of here. You have to say something real. (laughter) 

I think it’s very difficult to just pinpoint to one thing. Because me first year, it was extremely overwhelming. There were so many things happening at the same time. But then the second day I came in much prepared and planned  and I got to make such amazing connections from people that I look up to, people that I follow and I have been following for a long time. To see them, to talk to them, it’s just been amazing.

Book

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Contact

Instagram: @ikaihaus