Fellow artist, Bo Petran, and I are planning a show for February 2019 at the Atlantic Works Gallery. We met in his East Boston studio this afternoon to talk about gallery floor space, wall space, to sharpen our concept and the possibility of covering part of the windows with Japanese-like fabric screens and then painting or marking the fabric screens with ink– maybe use gold paint to make the fabric look kinsugi. We are doing an American riff on Wabi-Sabi (the Japanese art of beauty and imperfection).
Being artists and curious people we discussed more topics; one was my Experience of 21 Days in Abaya: the concept and intent behind that project.
A few questions that always come up, and we talked about today, are 1) hair (I wrote about hair in Day 17 blog post) 2) do I feel uncomfortable? 3) are people rude to me? 3) do people talk to me or even approach me? 4) do I wear the abaya all day? and 5) do I feel comfortable now in the abaya?
With Bo I spoke about the concept and how the abaya work fits in with the other art I have been making in the past few years, work that Bo is familiar with.
In a nutshell: My art is physical and figurative. I explore what it means to be human; what it means to live inside the shell of skin; what we experience inside our shell of skin that what might be different or the same as other human beings; where does the soul exist and can we locate it; how are we silenced.
In November 2017 I showed a series of monoprints of black hooded heads. The hoods represented the ways we humans can and have been silenced — racism, religion, gangs, humiliation, society, gender…..wearing the abaya is an extension of that work, particularly the work of being silenced. Many women’s voices have gone unheard or have been turned off, ignored, silenced–we are seeing that in our political world right now.
I wanted to know what it felt like to wear the abaya. For sure, it would have been different to wear it in Saudi Arabia, a place where I would not have had a choice. But here–in New England and New York–I found it a liberating garment. Particularly being an artist. Wearing the abaya heightened my awareness of my internal world and at the same time made me more aware of when people moved away or turned their heads or gawked.
February 7 through February 28, 2019. Atlantic Works Gallery, 80 Border Street, East Boston, MA. Opening night reception 6-9 PM Thursday February 7. Third Thursday Artist Talk Thursday 21 February 6-9 pm.