Loss has the power to bring you back to your most authentic self. In my formative years, my work was an amalgamation of printmaking, drawing, and painting, through which I deconstructed the importance of meditation, prayer, and religious practice in my life. In the midst of the chaos, unrest and many examples of intolerance in the world, I demonstrated the peace and serenity that I obtained through Bandagi or Zikr, a form of repetitive chanting in my work by obsessively writing and rewriting the same verses over and over again. This practice has ebbed and flowed in reaction to major life events, but remained a constant source of inspiration throughout my artistic practice.
The sudden loss of my mother put a halt to my practice and my life. Not being able to speak to her every day, about everything, like I used to, created a huge void. Any attempt to make work again felt like making memories without her, and going on with life like that did not feel right.
Months later, I started to negotiate the grief I held. While processing this tremendous ' loss, I began centering my mother in my work. In this way, I was able to reconcile with my fear of moving forward without her. I began talking to her like before, within the work, hiding secrets just for her to read, someday.
The meditation, which had in years prior been foundational to my practice, encouraged me to live my life again by making my mother the force I would now unconsciously direct my Zikr to.
I began using my mother’s clothes, threads, and other belongings to embed her memories within my work. I weave, crochet, embroider, paint, print, and process these items into paper, trying to keep her alive. I write letters to her which I use within the work as pulp or write them in a secret script to speak with her, slowly making sense of the void. Gradually, my work started to address the irreversible change that occurs within oneself when experiencing such a loss. Akin to fabric being transformed into paper.
Although I had explored the loss of family members in the past, nothing felt like this; like a part of me leaving. Even though you try everything in your power to be the same as you were, you are unable to. The outward facing self dons a new cloak but the inner self returns to nascence. Alone, you must work to find a new form. Through my practice I strive towards acceptance of this new self, forever searching for the feeling of wholeness.
Title: Before My Time
Medium: Screen print on Warped Self Made Paper thread
Size: 7 x 7 inches