My art practice is often informed by my need to collect, organize, and archive artifacts left behind by loved ones. To me, it is critically important to explore how these artifacts, these remnants of the past, shape identity and understanding of human connection. While personal artifacts allow me to better understand my own identity and experience, historical artifacts help me to better understand the identities and experiences of others.
To better conceptualize how, in my own life, miscommunications have occurred and relationships have shattered, personal artifacts have been incorporated into my installations, mixed media, and sculptural works. In Withdrawal for instance, voicemails were ordered, looped, and transferred to cassette; the messages left narrate the manifestations of my mother’s substance use and my subsequent disengagement. In Correspondence, letters my mother wrote me from rehab were revisited; they functioned as stimuli and propelled me to create response art years after they were penned. In Break Ups, ceramic works destroyed by an ex-lover were mended. Having been inspired by the Japanese Kintsugi method of repairing broken pottery pieces with gold, I was able to take back my voice and speak out against relationship violence.
To explore the theme of miscommunication further, and to understand its impact on a global scale, I have also analyzed the influence of historical artifacts on society. Using photography as my chosen medium, I have looked at monuments and the interactions individuals have within a given landscape. In doing so, the effects of alienation on different identities were exposed. In Barriers for example, historical traumas such as the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall were referenced. As the viewer reflects on the atrocities of WWII and the sequence of events that followed, the consequence of building physical and psychological walls becomes apparent. In Shahin, the experiences of a Muslim, Iranian woman exploring NYC were captured in the first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency. Images of her smiling in front of the Statue of Liberty and experiencing sadness at the 9/11 Memorial can be seen. Despite the solidarity depicted in these images, estrangement is still sensed.
In sharing these projects, I had hoped for an increase in communication that would lead to less misunderstanding. When we engage and learn about each other’s pain, connection and healing is made possible. I always consider how others communicate with, and therefore contribute to, my work. For me, the true authenticity of my creations lie in how the materials are obtained and the interactions I have with others along the way.