Hira Roberts is a Digital Artist, Architect, and an Assistant Professor at Prairie View A&M University. She received her undergraduate degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore, after which she did contract work. Due to her strong 3D modeling skills she was offered a job at a game development company which led to her pursuit of a Master Degree in Digital Art from Louisiana State University.
Thematically, her work is representative of challenges she has faced as a woman in a third world country, her pursuit of independence, and life of an immigrant woman in the United States. Embodiment and disembodiment are an integral part of her work and a means to create empathetic experiences for audiences; where she shares her state of mind through abstract and immersive spaces. The mediums and tools she has used vary from digital world building, interactive installations, immersive art, to ink drawings, digital paintings, and pencil drawings. She enjoys experimenting and combining emerging technology with architecture and various forms of art.
Hira’s artwork examines the intersection of technology and traditional forms of art. Her mediums include, mobile applications, desktop applications, videos, projection mapping, virtual reality, installations, drawings and sculpture. She employs softwares such as Houdini, Maya, ZBrush, TouchDesigner, VPT8, AutoCAD, Unity, Unreal, Arduino, Processing, Photoshop and more. Hira is also experienced in using C#, C++, HTML, and CSS.
“Empathy: the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation” ~ Cambridge English Dictionary
Freedom of expression, religion, and the pursuit of an artistic career in Pakistan presents many challenges and restrictions for women, which led to my eventual immigration to the United States. In Pakistan, women rights, sexual harassment, and independence for women are a taboo subject, therefore, there was no place for someone like me who was unafraid to raise my voice. Even though there is no comparison between life in the US versus that in Pakistan, it turns out the United States has a different set of problems when it comes to race and women rights. Therefore, my artwork has always been about personal narratives and sharing social and cultural challenges that women face globally.
The pandemic highlighted even more challenges that working women and mothers face daily. My recent work explores these transglobal challenges using a variety of mediums where I combine interactive digital installations with traditional forms of art. Embodiment is an integral part of my work as I wish to create experiences to help others empathize with the struggles of those around them. My work incorporates virtual reality headsets, interactive projections, installations, and a combination of other digital and traditional mediums in order to put the audience “in my shoes”.
“Mindscape” aims to visualize the state of my mind as I learn to navigate the role of a new mother with postpartum depression, anxiety, and fear, amplified due to the spread of Covid-19 in 2020. My goal is to include the following body of work:
A virtual world that is meant to be experienced through a virtual reality headset containing abstract weblike architectural forms; a visual representation of fear and anxiety within the subconscious mind. I aim to incorporate sound that amplifies and resonates upon colliding with the structure resulting in vibrating virtual threads as the viewer navigates through this space.
Accompanying will be a series of sculptures that incorporate faceless bodies of women connected to various abstract structures. Whether she is breaking free or is being held back by what is connected to her is open to interpretation. The structures symbolize the stereotypical and binary expectations of society from women, further highlighted during the pandemic.
Lastly, an interactive projection will comprise silhouettes of loved ones that fell to the virus. The numbers hovering above them represent their ages. They move and shift as you approach them but can never be tangible as they live behind the veil of death. They are faceless as they also represent the millions that have lost their lives to Covid-19.
Along with the above will be the memento mori themed drawings and studies of death symbols across cultures, as well as compositions of women from the west and east in situations reflecting the impact of the pandemic.