Color in Pakistan
Color: Bringing the World Closer Together
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
During the past decade on the Internet, I’ve realized that color is an experience that we all share regardless of politics, religion, geography, age, or gender. Over 6 billion people are on the planet – and we are all immersed in a color soaked world.
The miracle of color is that it is a universal experience – one that can be the basis for reaching out to one another and sharing our commonalities. We’re all looking at the same stars at night. We all marvel at the colors of the rainbow.
For the next five weeks, I will be in Pakistan. I will be visiting the country and teaching color at several educational institutions (as a volunteer). This blog will be dedicated to “Color Matters in Pakistan” for weeks that follow.
Asalam and Aloha,
Tech Lahore - http://techlahore.com/
(a blog about the technology industry in Lahore, and in Pakistan)
We All Have Five Fingers
Thursday, February 05, 2009
I arrived in Lahore, Pakistan Saturday after 3 days of travel, almost half way around the world. As I progressed westward across the Pacific, the time zones and the visual landscape changed dramatically. As the plane touched down at Allama Iqbal Airport in Lahore, the first thing I saw was the air terminal – an earthy red brick building – in a style that reflects the Mughal history of the city. After spending so much time in the achromatic metallic and glass environments of Tokyo and Bangkok’s airports, this building welcomed me with a sense of humanity. Natural materials, color, and an architectural style that reflects the cultural history.
So what do I see? The trees are green and the sky is blue. People dressed in the traditional garb of long tunics over pants (shalwar kameez) line the streets. If it weren’t for the cars, this is a rare timeless place that looks as if it could be hundreds of years ago.
A few days ago, I had a unique color experience. The setting sun was a bright carrot red. It was especially remarkable since you could look directly at it, which I suppose was due to the filtering effect of the dust particles in the air.
Some background now: I am here to teach color at Beaconhouse National University for the next four weeks. My first contact with the students was Monday at a bonfire in honor of the 15th Century poet Kabir, whose Sufism represented a fusion of principles from both the Islamic and Hindu tradition.
On Tuesday I reviewed an exhibit of student artwork. I regret that my wonderful camera chose this time to break down …(the dreaded Canon lens error) but I did manage to take a few pictures of this exhibit. This is my first teaching experience outside the western world and I can only say that students everywhere are concerned with the same issues. The underlying themes are ecological issues and concerns for humanity. One student created a life-size beggar puppet, suspended by black-gloved arms – a symbol of the Mafia controlled beggardom here in Lahore. I am learning so much about Pakistan. “We all have five fingers,” so spoke Umar, my driver. Yes.
I will buy a new camera tomorrow!
Color Symbolism Project in Lahore, Pakistan
Thursday, February 12, 2009
My third year students are working on a project that focuses on color symbolism. Each student chose a color and had to define what the color meant to him or her. (In other words, the personal meaning of the color.) Here are the results.
My name is Zarrar Khan
My color is white
For me white is purity
My name is Alwina.
My color is yellow.
For me yellow means happiness.
My name is Amna.
My color is black.
For me black is isolation/ calmness.
My name is Maria.
My color is blue.
For me blue means misery.
My name is Ubab Mamina
My color is Pink
To me pink is the perfect color to represent my personality, as baby pink shows flirtatious, innocence, shyness, and cuteness while hot pink shows strong emotions and boldness. These shades don’t show controversy but they do show hidden aspects of it.
My Name is Zarghuna Khayyam
My Color is Maroon
Maroon is a mixture of purple and dark red it means sensuality, attraction, mystery, power, desire, possessiveness and protection.
My name is Anum Shaukat.
My colour is red.
Red is a very bold colour for me, it gives me confidence strength and power.
My name is Waqas khan
My color is SilverSilver for me is something that shines a lot and something that shines for me is happiness.
The next phase of the project is to use the color in a wearable art form (a full covering or partial, such as a hat.) The final presentation will be a “mime” performance
The colors of power, purity, metamorphosis and much more … from Pakistan
Saturday, February 21, 2009
My third year design students in Lahore, Pakistan (Beaconhouse National University) completed their color symbolism project. The results reflected many “universal’ meanings of colors and several very personal and regional interpretations.
You can see some of the most interesting results at a separate web page: Pakistan - Color Symbolism
This color symbolism assignment required that each student choose a favorite color and address what the color meant to him or her. Next, they had to create a costume or headpiece that reflected the symbolism as a metaphor. Finally they had to perform a mine in the costume – individually and as part of their group.
I stressed the concept of metaphor. In other words, create a piece that is not the literal interpretation of color. Get rid of yellow suns and lollipops and create something abstract for a color such as yellow. They did!
(Note: I am serving as visiting professor for and am conducting color workshops for five weeks at this university in Pakistan. Special appreciation to their teacher Umar Hameed and T.A. Mohsin Shafi.)
Cultural History as Key to Color
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The historical landscape of any place in the world serves as an essential key to colors – to meaningful colors in a culture. This was the focus of the color workshop for 2nd year Visual Communications students at BNU in Lahore, Pakistan.
First, we went on a field trip to the Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque (whose estimated date of initial construction is the 11th century – long before the Gothic cathedrals of the Western world). The assignment required that each student take approximately ten sets of photographs. Each set required a panoramic shot of any building on the 48 acres of the Fort and Mosque and 4-5 close up shots of the same structure. (A possible total of 50 or more images.) A concentrated focus on the colors and textures was the primary issue.
Next, the results of this survey were to be presented in a well-designed collage, triptych, or any organized composition.
Of note is the fact that most of the students had visited the Fort and Mosque several times during elementary school and high school field trips. In spite or this, the experience of observing the colors of these significant historical buildings from near and far was an invaluable experience.
Individual perceptions varied. Some students tuned in to the muted salmon orange hues of the masonry; others to the cobalt blues of the tiles.
Photographs of the field trip to the Lahore Fort and Mosque and two of the final compositions can be seen at Pakistan - History
The Colors of Tarogil Village, Pakistan - Textile Students
March 10, 2009
Some history first: The earliest known example of cotton is the fragment found at Mehrgarh, Pakistan, one of the most important Neolithic (Stone Age/7000 B.C. – 3200 B.C.) sites. Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 29, Issue 12, December 2002, Pages 1393-1401)
Today, cotton textile production and apparel manufacturing are Pakistan's largest industries, accounting for about 70% of total export.
Consequently, it is quite significant that Beaconhouse National University has nurtured a Textiles Department. During my 4th week in Pakistan, I conducted a color workshop for these students.
The workshop included a field trip to the village - a small cluster of homes in the midst of the mustard fields that surrounds the Tarogil campus. The homes are primarily constructed of mud, mud-brick, and thatch. Unpaved streets and paths are filled with people dressed in traditional garb, donkey carts and buffalo carts (whose prototype dates back to the third millennium B.C.). No cars! A sense of timelessness . . . a step back to a time that most of us only see in movies. The visual landscape of Targogil village reminds us of that era in Pakistan that is the source of the earliest cotton fragment.
The assignment required that the textile students note the colors in the village. As was the case with the 2nd year Visual Communications students, they were to get close to whatever they encountered – whether it were the colors of the mustard fields and other colors in the natural surround or the materials and surfaces of objects and structures.
After compiling their color notations, each student selected three favorite colors and one least favorite color for a composition based on the Bezold effect.
More about the "Color Workshop for Textile Students in Pakistan" at Pakistan - Tarogil
The Colors of Political Protest in Pakistan
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
What does it feel like to be a young adult in Pakistan? Is the country really the way the media presents it with themes of terrorism, religious extremism, oppression of women, or any other volatile topic that attracts attention? Some artwork from the Visual Communications students at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore tells a different story.
During my last week in Lahore, several design students submitted artwork that reflects their experiences about the current state of affairs in their homeland. One of them was a floor sculpture – a large map of Pakistan (8 x 3 feet / 2.5 x 1 meters), covered with green hands, reaching upwards. (The color of the flag of Pakistan is green.) The piece is a true testimony to the search for peace and stability in Pakistan.
Another compelling political statement was a photographic image of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) that American drones are bombing. “Hellwood” (in bold white letters evocative of the world famous "Hollywood Sign”) was placed on top of the camouflage-colored mountains. Ali Haider, whose ancestors are from Afghanistan, came up with the concept and Janaka, an exchange student from Sri Lanka, did the graphic work. This image presents another view – that of the tragedy of daily life - in this region . Although there may be pockets of militancy and religious extremism in the remote tribal areas, there are 21,000,000 people (none of whom have connection to terrorists) who are simply struggling to survive in this mountainous area, appropriately labeled “Hellwood.” (For a closer look see photos of students’ artwork at Pakistan-Politics & Art
Perhaps these students can realistically present the colors of the peace we all seek.