The inspiration for the earliest works in this series stemmed from the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US. In this body of work I combine my love of geometric design; in this case, patterns from Islamic art and architecture along with poems from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass translated into Iraqi. My intention is, in an understated way, to question our lack of understanding and respect for Arab and Islamic cultures while at the same time, protesting the war. Whitman—for me the quintessential American poet—was a celebrated unifier and embracer of cultures and customs.
After completing this initial series I continued in the same vein, now calling the series the Islamic Works. The work has evolved to include ideograms, Arab proverbs and phrases as well as Whitman’s verses, plus an expansion outside of the purely geometric motif. Through combining beauty and meaning, I hope to introduce a view of a culture as not simply political headlines, but as the expressive voices of individuals with their own hopes, dreams and desires.
Nota Bene: Although not always apparent, all of the works in the Islamic series include Arabic script. The English translation of this embedded script is the basis for the title of each work except in cases where I’ve directly used the translation of a Walt Whitman poem into Iraqi, in which cases I’ve used the original English title of the poem. A native Arabic speaker reviews my work for any possible errors of translation.