Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
My story started like most everyone else's in this field, a love for "making", using my hands to convert a bunch of raw, simple materials into something that could be functional, simply beautiful or perhaps just quirky. The journey that brought me here however was full of twists and turns and my mother was at the center of it all.
I loved creating art in all its forms since I was a child, especially crafting with my hands. When the time came to go to college, my mother thought I should nurture my talent and go to art school. I, on the other hand, also loved science and was fascinated by the process of discovery. I foolishly felt that science is way more important than art to people's well being and I wanted to play my part in that. I decided, despite my mother's advice to take the science path and ended up going all the way through that track earning a Ph.D. and becoming a research scientist and a University academic.
My twenties and thirties were a very busy time for me, establishing my science career and having my three wonderful children. But, the love of art and craft never left me. So despite how busy I was, I still dabbled with art, teaching myself and jumping from one medium to the other. One day I realized that art is just as important as science. It is true that science is what helps us be physically healthy and control our physical environment to our liking, but how useful is a healthy physical being without a soul and mind nurtured by art?
Art is so fundamental to our well being that if you trace our civilization back to the cave man, you'll find that we created art before we created agriculture. How incredibly telling is that? We thought it was more important to beautify our world with art, before we figured out how to feed ourselves. So, I decided to pursue my art seriously just as my mother suggested years ago. Maybe I should have listened to mother from the beginning!
I still maintain my scientific and academic career but three years ago I established a home studio and started teaching my self Metalsmithing and Polymer Art through books and online resources. I knew that if I was going to pursue my art seriously, I needed to create a cohesive body of work that represented my creative drive. So, I looked within for inspiration.
This poem verse is hand written by the author, Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. The first line translates to "I am a ring jeweled by Damascus..."
I am an American of Syrian decent. I was so saddened to realize that the many people who never heard of Syria before the war, now only know her as a war torn country. I decided to use my art to remind people that Syria is a beautiful land and her people have a long history full of culture. I created a series of work inspired by one of Syria's most famous poets, Nizar Qabbani who wrote "I am a ring jeweled by Damascus...". It is a collection of rings each is in turn inspired by other poetry verses romanticizing the beauty and nature of the Syrian land. The whole story can be seen here
I moved from my home State of Virginia to Abu Dhabi five years ago. Like many Americans, I had an image of the Gulf countries as fairly conservative and somewhat intolerant to others' culture and religion. After moving here, I was surprised to find that the UAE has been so successful at creating a welcoming and tolerant culture while preserving their identity and their religious customs. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, an architectural masterpiece, represents the importance of bridging the cultural and religious divide to the people of the UAE. This beautiful notion, along with the spectacular physical beauty of this mosque inspired me to create a collection of wearable art that celebrates the design aesthetics of the mosque and its beautiful message. I leave you with a few pictures, from inspiration to realization.
I wish I could have visited Syria before the extremists destroyed it. Congratulations on receiving this experience, and thank you for sharing with us.