Struggling to understand

As a Jew, fear of Arabs was hard wired into me from an early age. After 9/11 when more Muslim women began to show their solidarity by deciding to wear hajib, I was very disturbed and fearful.
Brenda Oelbaum
One of These Things is not like the other: Elizabeth Smart Ver más grande >
I decided to use my fear and work through it in my art. So I took images of women in hajib and burkas and juxtaposed them with images from popular culture that seemed less threatening and yet very similar visually.

One of the most powerful of the collections was my piece that included the image of Elizabeth Smart a young Mormon girl who had been stolen from her bed in the middle of the night by someone her parents had hired as a day worker. She was held in captivity for 9 months before she was found and returned to her family.

The incredible thing was that her kidnappers took her out to mingle amongst other people shrouded in a kind of make shift burka...held together with safety pins. There where even pictures taken of her in this shroud by someone atone of these events.

In many cases in the U.S., stories like this end up in tabloid newspapers, and the picture of her in her burka appeared on the cover of several magazines as recently as several weeks ago in honor of the anniversary of her return.

By juxtaposing these images of women of Muslim faith with Elizabeth Smart, I was able to really examine and illustrate in a visual way how the burka can work in many different ways. For a Muslim woman it may be choice, religious belief, empowerment, or put upon her by her by her family or her husband. But in the situation regarding Elizabeth Smart, she was a hostage, hidden, weak.

As someone living in North America, I often hear other Westerners say things about how horrible it would be to wear a burka, and how these Muslim women are being treated unfairly and in a manner less then man. But I have come to see it differently. Every one is different and until you have actually spoken to the woman in her burka do you know her true feelings.

Unlike Elizabeth Smart they, for the most part, are not held hostage, for some the burka is empowering and a sign of unity at a time when many people were (besides myself) fearful that all Muslims would be terrorists.

I have learned a lot from my work. I hope it will also make others think about this and realize that we must communicate and not be fearful or put our own judgments on others.

Declaración del artista

This piece along with many other artists works about the veil will be travelling around the US for the next 5 years in an exhibition entitled; "THE VEIL: Visible and Invisible Spaces", Curated by Author Jennifer Heath.
This is a link to the travel calender and exhibition shedule.

I hope if there is someone reading this that is near one of the exhibition venues they will go and see the show.

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Arts , Islam , Veil , North America , artes , norteamérica , velo , voile , النقاب , أمريكا الشمالية , الإسلام


Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
Estados Unidos

I absolutely loved this piece. It is amazing how we often will espouse and passionately defend ideas and conceptions about which we have absolutely no evidence or proof. Misonceptions can take on a life of their own, and despite how wrong they may be, we are often willing to passionately defend them. I believe that questioning yourself, and though your art, other's ideas about the people and the world we live in, is not only progressive, but brave. This was beautiful.

Wish I was closer to come and see.

I am an artist from Israel. Born to the same fear.
Recently I have come to know amazing people from the few of the Arabic vileges near by.

Its obvious we are all the same and that most people do want to live in peace.

We are strting a few progects together, some art progects. Very ecxiting.

So sorry to have missed this show. Will it appear anywhere in 2014-2015?

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