A multidisciplinary project by Sehba Sarwar

On Belonging

Through my On Belonging multidisciplinary project, I explore my life as transnational citizen alongside my family’s history of migration and displacement.

My On Belonging is 40-minute live performance and installation that was launched in February 2018 at the Menil Collection's Byzantine Fresco Chapel. Through the production, I explore my journey as a transnational citizen alongside my family’s history of migration and displacement. In my performance, I incorporate my history interwoven with voice recordings by my mother, daughter, husband as well as audio renditions from comments extracted from survey response cards that were completed by more than 450 community members in six cities. I used some survey response cards for the site-specific art installation that I created outside the Chapel on an oak tree which I wrapped with ajrak fabric from my home city, Karachi, Sindh (Pakistan)—the ajrak design is also claimed by residents in Gujarat, India.

I am available to tour On Belonging with all or some of the project components (performance, site-specific installation, workshops, and community conversations). Please contact me if you're interested in bringing On Belonging to your city or campus!

On Belonging was launched in February 2018 at Houston’s Menil Collection campus to complement artist Mona Hatoum’s 2017-18 Terra Infirma art exhibition.

Comment cards were completed in Austin, Boston, El Paso, Houston, Karachi, Los Angeles, McAllen, Montreal, Washington DC by participants whose mothers were born in countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Ethiopia, France, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Indonesia, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, USSR, and USA. As of February 2018, only 30 out of 450 participants reside in the same location as their mothers’ birth cities.  

Menil Collection event announcementRead More »
Video excerpt from performance at the Menil CollectionView here »
Mona Hatoum’s Terra Infirma exhibitionRead More »
View images from my On Belonging performanceView Here »
View photos from my On Belonging  installationView Here »
Read my essay about On Belonging in the Houston ChronicleRead More »

On Belonging has been supported in part by the Menil Collection; Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. The project was developed through my 2012-14 residency with the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and through my work with Voices Breaking Boundaries.


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 offer a range of services including: readings, workshops, courses, or multidisciplinary performances/installations. I look forward to hearing from you!


Sehba Sarwar Art Car
Front hood of art car, Digital Meets Pakistani Truck Art, featuring stickers of buraq images from Karachi; photo by Burnell McCray