During the past 16 days many people have asked why I am not covering my hair when I am wearing the abaya and the veil. I thought it might be interesting to bring in an expert: the wonderful and lovely Saudi woman who is mentoring me during the abaya project.
Today I talked to Wililam DeLove, a homeless person. When I told him I was an artist experiencing 21 Days in the Abaya. He said, "I thought you were a nun."
The Indian statue at Sunrise Park on the Mohawk Trail greets the Great Spirit and reminds us: Love. Love. Love. Other people. Your fate. Your obstacles. Love it all. Because it’s the only way.
Not many people know much about Muslim women and their garments. Most of us think it is an ancient way to dress. In fact it is not. The outfit I am wearing, and the full black ‘cage’ is a new fashion in Middle East. Prior to the late 70s, early 80s women were not required to wear the body covering garment. They might wear head covering as simple as a scarf and dressed modestly. The change came when the religious fundamental cleric class made the laws regarding women’s clothing.
During my subway ride, a woman stared at me as if i were an insect. When I got up to leave she followed my movement out with her eyes and even turned around and looked at me through the window as the train pulled away, as if she wanted to be sure I was gone.
Today, at the subway station, had to deal with the logistics of wearing abaya--like how to keep hem clean, how not to get it caught in the elevator steps and how to hold onto the veil when its slip sliding off the head.
Our instincts push us towards the comfortable. And I think that seeking to be comfortable can be dangerous. I am an artist, and a good one. If I stayed in a comfort zone, I might be making a different kind of art, a polite art. That’s not my intention: there are enough people doing nice art. I’d rather provoke thinking rather than feeling.
When a woman in an Abaya is seen on the street with a man let’s assume everyone figures he is related to her and that the man is Muslim...and if he is Muslim, he is the person who has requested his wife, daughter, sister cover her body in public.