My current series, The Fez as Storyteller, is a group of mixed-media sculptures and works on paper that explores the social and psychological legacy of my Iraqi, Jewish and Indian multi-cultural history, and more broadly questions the attitudes, conventions, and indoctrination that religious and social systems perpetuate over generations. Steeped in memory, the work addresses gender bias, entrenched customs, control, and the emotional turbulence that formed this heritage to critique yet commemorate this tradition.
Resembling artifacts, these works are a culmination of my lifelong interests in art, history, clothing/fashion, and psychology. They combine and contrast material elements, cultural symbols and associations from Middle Eastern, South Asian and Sephardic traditions with reconfigured imagery of family and place, suggesting irony and contradiction. I use the fez cap (traditional Middle-Eastern headgear) as a structural base for the storytelling to reflect the foundation established by my forebears, who left Iraq for Bombay to become traders of the hats in their adopted land. The crafting of each piece is meticulous, time-consuming, and process-driven. It consists of designing the piece, composing the multi-layered images digitally (some up to 80 layers), procuring the various elements from resources such as consignment shops, thrift stores, fabric and accessory vendors, and devising the best techniques to combine them. Disassembling and re-working existing garments, accessories and decorative items, hand-sewing, beading, and intricate fastening are some of the methods used.