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Artist statement

I create conceptual environmental mixed-media art that focuses on the linkages between heart and mind—feeling and intellect—and how we can change reality through what we believe. My work is situated within broader themes of place and time in the Middle East, where I have lived and worked extensively over the last 11 years. Using cut paper, paint, thread, objects, and found materials, I root esoteric concepts in concrete experiences of specific histories, present moments, and imagined futures.

As societies worldwide have become increasingly unmoored, as a consequence of consumerism and power pressures, there is a universal hunger to reconnect to meaning. This takes form in learning to listen to our hearts, in the desire to revere and protect the earth, in counteracting political efforts to divide us with an understanding of the ways in which we are one. My ideas area informed by spiritual, philosophical, and poetic traditions including Buddhism, Kashmir Shaivism, romanticism, environmentalism, and the philosophy of science. Through my artwork I seek to connect, visualize, and communicate my understanding of transformational concepts and to call forth an extreme idealism rooted in recognition of what is.

The five alchemical elements--earth, water, air, fire, spirit—are important in my work and I incorporate them through color and materials: greens, browns, blues, oranges, reds; paints I’ve ground from desert stone, salt, nets, boats, feathers, thread, and burned objects. A recent example is The Net of Curiosity—a blue hand-knotted fishing net that I made and photographed catching stones, trees, and people in Azraq, in the Eastern desert of Jordan.

I begin with a concept, research its elements and review my image collections, and gradually build up a two-dimensional piece with paint, cut paper, and thread on paper or canvas. I use color selectively, in a typically earthy palette accented with greens, blues, oranges, or reds. I often use Arabic script as both story and design element, due to its poetic nature and lyrical lines.

My current project, Imagination of Salvation, documents and accompanies my broader collaboration with Jordanian artists and scientists as we work towards personal, social, ecological, and economic transformation in Azraq, Jordan. Through our efforts to rehabilitate a former oasis in the desert, destroyed by mismanagement of water resources, we seek to change what people believe to be possible. The works in this series include photographs of actions in the desert with a blue net, blue boats, painted stones, and evaporating water; aerial maps that I have cut, painted, and sewn along seasonal streams; mixed-media collages with date palm fronds; landscape paintings of rock pigment, salt, and charcoal; and the recurring image of the human heart being discovered ­­­again and again.

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