Most of my work in sculptural installation, object sculpture, painting, drawing, poetry, performance, film, and exhibition curating, has developed a specific focus as my life experience encountered the mainstream ideologies of the master narrative of western culture. More specifically, a thread seemingly runs through the work: “how-we-treat-the-other.” In the early work, this thread addressed millennia-old conventional cultural references to women as an “other,” as in the societal language practice utilizing exclusionary the concept of “ ‘mankind’ as opposed to the more inclusive ‘humankind,’ as in the denial of the right to vote, and so forth.
From this point of departure, the work evolved into an eco-feminist narrative, addressing how contemporary society too often acts toward nature as if it were an “other,” a force to be feared, destroyed or paved over (insects, marshes, coyotes), controlled (pesticides), manipulated (agri-business), manicured (lawns), exploited and commodified (elephants, fossil fuels, water), rather than to be integrated and learned from.
All of these “others” are marketed to us as if they were threats, or in opposition to us, –when in fact we are inextricably linked in an ecosystem where everyone and everything IS ultimately us. The Fertile Soil Series embodies these concepts.
Chronologically, the ‘other’ in my work appeared as the African American in the United States. The two curatorial projects “Art Against Racism,” and the “A True History of Rhode Island,” unveiling the slave-trading historical roots of Rhode Island, are emblematic of this ‘race’ relationship of the ‘other.’
Having viewed the Vietnam war as a child, the onset of the first Gulf War immediately piqued responses of moral outrage and so I took up my previous interest in Islamic architecture and peace activism and redirected them to ‘the enemy’ as the ‘other,’ (example, Memorial to the Iraqi People” I and II, and the Camouflage Series). Exposed: the media view foisted upon us that the enemy is an object outside of ourselves. As we see the faces of the Iraqi, as we recognize the glamourization of military might in the Camouflage series we may be reminded of the ‘other’ as our own human relative.
The most recent body of work, the Deeksha series, does not focus directly on the concept of the ‘other.’ This series evolves from the new world’s recognition through quantum physics of the oneness of existence – all of existence as energy.
Although my artwork derives from socially and environmentally conscious sources, it intentionally integrates the power of color and design with meaning and content.
Through strategies of beauty and seduction, utilizing the formal properties of art: spatial arrangement and composition, geometric shape and form, light and shadow, repetition and symmetry, the work brings into focus an awareness of human existence.
These art investigations struggle to extract us from the socio-cultural traps of prejudice, bigotry, militarism, and environmental desecration. They often recall examples of learning and unlearning with regard to human, nature, nation and spirit relations. Cultural memory is so easily fragmented that it barely exists.
The sculptural works and paintings often evoke loss, not victory, within a haunting beauty that draws us forward to know more.
The thread through the work is therefore human inter-connectedness, -earth and relation as a single organism. All of these art pieces are rooted in spiritual regard and responsibility to all, -human, animal, mineral and their irreplaceable roles in the ecosystem.
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