(Above: Muslim, Decision Portrait Series. Stitched words: I Forgive Those Who Look at Me with Hate. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand beaded and stitched. 31" x 25", framed. Click on image to enlarge.)
My studio is located at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios in downtown Columbia, SC. There are twelve other private studios and a large gallery, atrium, and hallways for outside individuals and groups to rent for their own exhibitions. This summer The University Painting Society held a show. One of the exhibiting artists was very interested in my studio and my work. She wanted to expand her artwork to include fibers. Well, I was as interested in her as she was in me. The moment I lay eyes on her, I hoped she would pose for this portrait.....and SHE DID!
(Above: Friends in my studio. Click on image to enlarge.)
As a result, she came to the weekly, informal gathering of friends in my studio....a "stitch, knit, and talk session on Monday evenings. I introduced her to some fiber techniques and got the photo and signed model's release for the portrait.
(Above: Detail of Muslim. Click on image to enlarge.)
This portrait is a powerful work, an important addition to the series. We all talked about religious freedom....a value that founded this country; we all talked about how world conflict interferes with this fundamental right. We all agreed that tolerance is needed.
A hijab is a headscarf worn by Muslim women. It conceals the hair and neck and sometimes the face with a veil for the eyes. The word in Arabic means "curtain / cover" and is based on the root حجب meaning "to cover, to veil, to shelter" It is worn over daily clothes in public and generally removed at home. It is similar to a burqa which Wikipedia describes as a garment covering most of the body as an outer garment. Burqa comes from the Arabic root /r/+/q/+/ʕ/ which means "to patch up" or "to sew up". Both are worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty and religious devotion. Unfortunately, there are many people all over the world that look upon these clothing choices as something sinister and fearful. Personally, I simply see a fellow female who is proud to proclaim a faith that shares the same Old Testament as my beliefs. I hope this portrait when viewed by others, provokes thoughts about how to best respond to someone of another faith. I am happy to number this new "fiber enthusiast" as a new friends.
One of my "Monday night" friends is the fabulous Dolly Patton, Executive Director of the Saluda Shoals Foundation. Dolly and the incredible staff at Saluda Shoals Park have arranged for me to teach a class in their modern facilities. Here's the info:
NEW! Hot, Exploration in Contemporary Fiber Arts
Join nationally-known fiber artist, Susan Lenz, in this creative fiber workshop using needle and thread, fabric and beads. Create works of art using a heat-activated process and various types of fiber embellished with hand and free motion embroidery. Participants will leave with a finished piece suitable for framing.Maximum 18 participants.
Dates: August 25, Sept. 1 & Sept. 8; 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Location: Environmental Center Classrooms, Saluda Shoals Park
Ages: 16 & up