“I’ve lived on three continents. My thoughts and feelings are enmeshed in multiple languages and movements. Perhaps this is why I look for liminal, in-between spaces, places of fearless exchange and hospitality. It’s also what I hope to create with my work: dialogue and transformation through an interface with the other.”
Mara Ahmed is am interdisciplinary artist and activist filmmaker based on Long Island, New York. She was educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the United States and has an MBA and a Master’s in Economics. She worked in finance until 2004, when she resigned from her corporate job in order to focus on art and film. She studied art at Nazareth College and film at the Visual Studies Workshop and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Mara’s artwork has been exhibited at galleries in New York and California. Her shows are multimedia fusions of collage work, photography, graphic art and film work.
Mara’s first film, The Muslims I Know, premiered at the Dryden Theatre (George Eastman Museum) in 2008 and started a dialogue between American Muslims and people of other faiths. Her second film, Pakistan One on One, opened at the Little Theatre in 2011 and is a broad survey of public opinion about America, shot entirely in Lahore. Mara’s third film, A Thin Wall, explores the partition of India and possibilities of reconciliation. It premiered at the Bradford Literature Festival (in England) in 2015, won a Special Jury Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival in 2016, and has been screened worldwide, most recently in Taiwan. All of Mara’s films are available to watch on Vimeo on Demand.
Mara is interested in dialogue across both physical and psychological boundaries. In 2017, she gave a Tedx talk about the meaning of borders and nationalism entitled “The edges that blur.”
She is now working on The Injured Body, a documentary about racism in America, focusing exclusively on the voices of women of color. The film is being fiscally sponsored by NYWIFT and is slated to premiere in 2024. Her production company is Neelum Films.
Mara was honored to be one of the featured changemakers in RMSC’s exhibit, The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World. The exhibit highlighted stories of women visionaries and trailblazers from Rochester.
In 2023, Mara was awarded a NYSCA grant for her film and art project, Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation. The film premiered at Cinema Arts Centre on Oct 1, 2023 and its companion art exhibition was showcased at Huntington Historical Society’s History and Decorative Arts Museum, in Huntington, NY, from Sept 17 to Oct 15. More info under ‘Projects.’
Born in Pakistan, raised in Belguim, and now living in New York has provided Mara Ahmed with a unique worldview. As a desendent of those impacted by the creation of the partition between Pakistan and India, she’s seen the impact of attempting to condense a diverse population down to a singular identity that fails to define its members. Through her art, she attempts to tear down these arbitrarily created borders… and force the viewer to imagine a better world. A world without borders.