34-color woodcut hand-carved from 20 Baltic birch woodblock plates and hand-printed on Awagami kozo paper, 2021
Cloud: Sacrifice of Zulaikha and Primavera: Hajar and the Angels in the Wilderness belong to a series of works produced between 2017 and 2021 titled Dream. Dream is an allegorical tale, a sort of roman à clef about displacement and my faith in the orthodoxy of visual image. The visible constitutes a poetic language evocative of mystery, affording the thematic iconography to maintain its presence in the opposition between reality and illusion. Via Dream, I seek to expand the boundaries of storytelling and visualization to allow for the new context to emerge. In Primavera: Hagar and the Angles in the Wilderness I reference the narrative of Hagar (Hājar) and her son Ishmael from the book of Genesis while considering hardship and the reclamation of one’s identity. Abandoning the conventional Western-European painting tradition of depicting Hājar and Ishmael wandering in the wilderness, I create the moment when Hājar is about to give birth at a water well. While the strangeness of the androgynous angels may at first be unsettling, there is a nobleness about them as they support a determined and poised Hājar in her moment of vulnerability, offering a sense of mystique and serenity to this tale.