My most recent paintings have been inspired by a return trip in 1997 to the Middle East, where I grew up. I found myself inspired by Islamic architecture, art and design, incorporating this aesthetic into my silk-screened paintings. In particular, I was struck by the mysterious beauty of the mashrabiya, a type of Islamic oriel window enclosed with ornate carved wood latticework. One of the main features of the mashrabiya is to create privacy for women, an essential aspect of Arabic culture. Through its intricate carvings, the occupant can look at the outside world without being seen, preserving the private interior. Both the abstract ornamentation of the mashrabiya, as well as its reference to female identity inspired me and it is this juxtaposition between form and function that I explore in my work.
Overall, my paintings are a conflation of several meditations – art and culture, the traditional and the contemporary, East and West. Through compressed layering I reference ancient Islamic art and architecture, but also wish to create a visual tension through symmetrical subdivision. Through unifying all of these elements, I recreate the experience of looking out through this screen – darkness and light inexorably exist as the geometric designs that inspire me are layered to enhance, not disguise, allowing them to appear illuminated in the dark. I want to produce a spiritual luminosity through repetition and balance. By doing so, the viewer is immersed in harmony, transported to a place of serene contemplation behind the gentle protection of the mashrabiya. The mashrabiya, for me, is a window to the unseen, and it is only in this intangible, spiritual place, that serene contemplation can occur.
I would like to thank master printer, Chris Shore of The Center for
Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, Ct. for all his help with the silk screening.