I am Sehba Sarwar—

a transnational writer, workshop leader, artist and community activist tackling gender, displacement and border issues.

Sehba Sarwar with Voices Breaking Boundaries staff members Ana Laurel and Armando Silva; photo by Pin LIm

My work has been featured in the New York TImes Sunday Magazine, Creative Time Reports, ASIA: Magazine of Asian Literature and other publications.

As artist-in-residence at the University of Houston’s Mitchell Center for the Arts, I created a large-scale project examining personal and community migration patterns, and I developed and taught a co-course, Art and Activism. My most important work in Houston may have started in 2000 when I founded Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB), an alternative arts organization that tackles social justice issues at a local and global level.


I served on the board of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, was scholar-in-residence at Rice University’s Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality, and have participated in panels with the Ford Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts and more.

A member of Macondo Writers Workshop and American Leadership Forum, I also co-hosted a weekly show at Houston’s Pacifica Radio Station KPFT 90.1 FM, where I interviewed Houston-based artists as well as international celebrities including Patti Smith.

Sehba Sarwar Activist Writer
Materials from Sehba Sarwar's blog that were exhibited at Houston's central library and are currently stored in her archives at the University of Houston

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and I am currently based in Southern California with my husband and teenage daughter. from where I produce writing and art, and offer workshops and talks.


2:00 - 4:00 pm, February 3 & 4, 2018

On Belonging, a site-specific installation and performance, Menil Collection, Houston, TX.

10:30 am - 12:30 pm, February 15, 2018

Roundtable speaker for Poets & Writers (west), South Pasadena Public Library, Library Community Room, 1115 El Centro Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030

February 27, 2018 (details TBA)

University of Austin Rio Grande Valley, Speaker at Creative Writing Conference, McAllen, TX.

5:00 - 6:30 pm, March 15, 2018

Talk “Borderlines: Telling South Asian and US-Mexico Border Histories through Art and Performance”, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA.


Awarded Mid-America Arts Alliance Artistic Innovations grant for my project What Is Home? project, Kansas City, USA; Jul 2014

Awarded Mount Holyoke College Alumnae 1905 Fellowship for completion of my memoir What Is Home?; Apr 2014

Accepted into Texas Commission on the Arts’ Traveling Artist Roster, Austin, USA; Jan 2014

Accepted into the American Leadership Forum-Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter, Houston, USA; Apr 2013

Accepted for a two-year Artist-in-Residence program at the Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston, Houston, USA; Aug 2012

Accepted into the National Leadership Institute for the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC), San Francisco, USA; May 2012

Co-designed co-performed in Voices Breaking Boundaries’ art car Revolution and awarded first prize in the Free Speech Category at the 2011 Houston Art Car Parade, Houston, USA; May 2011

Accepted into Texas Commission on the Arts’ Traveling Artist Roster, Austin, USA; Jun 2010

Awarded membership to Macondo Writers’ Workshop, San Antonio, USA; May 2009

Honored by Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Jan 2009

Honored by Houston’s First Lady Andrea White at We Are All Neighbors luncheon, Houston, USA; Nov 2008

Featured Poet on Border Senses, El Paso, USA; June 2007

Honoree for community service and writing at Living Smart’s Annual conference, Channel 8, Houston PBS, Houston, USA; Feb 2007

Recipient of Houston Arts Alliance’s Creative Artist Award for excellence as an artist, Houston, USA; Jan 2007

In 2014, Kairn Klieman PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Houston, taught a graduate public history course in which she and her graduate students researched the history of Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB), as an example of a social justice organization whose work is intertwined with local and global issues.

Klieman’s students interviewed me as well as Voices Breaking Boundaries’ board, participating artists, and community members. Based on research material that Klieman’s students gathered, the University of Houston’s Friends of Women’s Studies acknowledged the impact of my work by creating permanent ongoing archives of my writings and VBB’s history in its Special Collections. The archives feature my artistic career and VBB’s extensive, multi-sensory history, and were made available to the public in fall 2016.


Sarwar’s voice continues to ring out clear and true, breaking boundaries no matter what format she chooses to express herself in.

—Bina Shah, Sampsonia Way, September, 2014


I am an author and speaker, an artist, and a community and cultural activist.

If I can use my talents and passions to inspire you or your network to push boundaries and become involved in our communities, please connect with me. I am open to schedule readings, workshops, courses or multimedia installations.Universities and non-profit organizations based in Texas can apply for Texas Commission on the Arts grants to fund Sarwar’s workshops, readings and/or installations since she serves on the Texas Touring Roster.


Sehba Sarwar Art Car
Photo Credit: