My earliest memories of making images were acts of sheer imagination: over cereal, I would stare at the wood paneling in my parents’ dining room until images emerged. A waterfall. Woody Wood Pecker. Bearded faces. Melting forests. A mysterious eye. It was a daily practice that I carry into the studio and my durational drawings. Now, I concentrate on family photographs, juxtaposed and transliterated text, and Muslim iconography.
When I look at those photographs -- of my childhood home in Queens -- I notice the adornments on the walls and the displays on the shelves: the framed tourist poster of the NYC skyline, Arabic and Urdu calligraphic textiles, small replicas of mosques and Islamic decorations. Knick-knacks my parents picked up as they moved from Pakistan to the United States to Saudi Arabia and back.
This early exposure to disparate images and objects informs how I select the content for my work. I collage images and text. I Xerox and trace figures; cut lines in and through faces; re-copy, re-size, and layer. I abstract and reconfigure.
Photographs are storytellers; Xeroxes are copies; stencils are guidelines. These are tools of the permanent. I cut into them to reveal the underlying stories behind the lines. The images become abstracted. They move in and out of one another. The absence becomes a presence and the erasure becomes a mark.
Home, pain and banishment have long been themes as I have worked across mediums. Recently, I have been using charcoal and a monochromatic palette and creating large multi-dimensional drawings on walls. I push the charcoal through painstakingly delicate stencils. I smudge and erase. No matter how hard I erase, ghosts remain.
Image credit: Maria Difranco, mariadifranco.com/home/