Insiya Dhatt – The Heart Longs


© 2019
edition of 5
dimensions in inches: 5.5 x 5.5 x .5


About this piece:

This particular work is an interpretation of my experiences growing up as a Muslim girl in India. To escape Mumbai during summer, my family spent most of our summer vacations visiting hundreds of mosques that were full of intricate Islamic tiles of bright and vivid colors. Entry to these tranquil mosques required women to be covered by the burqa with our sight obscured and bodies hidden. The book’s structure is to simulate that experience of being restricted and yet at the same time exposed to such wondrous beauty. The ghazal I chose, essentially a poem expressing longing for a time (or person) that was no longer part of the present, mirrors the feelings I have towards the life I left behind. These memories are bittersweet and warm but are always interleaved with the pain of being hidden and lesser as a woman.

The Heart Longs is a handmade book created by Insiya Dhatt in 2019 in San Francisco, CA. The left side interleaving pages are comprised of Islamic interlaced symmetrical patterns featuring the 8-pointed star and the opposing side features the ghazal (sonnet) “Dil Dhadakne Ka Sabab Yaad Aaya” by the late Pakistani poet Nazir Kazmi. There are three representations of the ghazal – one in the original Urdu, the second in Hinglish and the third in English. Hinglish is a relatively new phenomenon used by the South Asian population where Hindi/Urdu words are written using the English alphabet. The English and Hinglish version are interpretations of the original ghazal by Insiya Dhatt.

Housed in a custom box of painted wood with movable base to facilitate removing the book.


paper, ink, wood, paint

About the artist:

Insiya draws inspiration from both her birthplace in the desert of Rajasthan and the intensity of her hometown Mumbai. After receiving her Masters in Banking and Economy, she spent 15 years shaping the face of eCommerce. During the following years, she left her position in the dot-com world to devote herself entirely to making art. Her art includes, photography, paper art and artist books.

About Alicia Bailey


Insiya Dhatt – The Heart Longs

by Alicia Bailey time to read: 1 min