Virtual viewing of Love Letters

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Slide List: 

  1. The Brave Ones Journey, collage, hand embroidery, and gouache, 6″x8″
  2. She is a Beacon of Hope, hand embroidery and watercolor, 14″x21″
  3. The Courageous, hand embroidery, watercolor, and collage, 12″x18″
  4. Contemplation, hand embroidery, acrylic, and collage, 6″x8″
  5. The Struggle Between My Dreams and Reality, hand embroidery and collage, 22″x30″
  6. Pillars of Strength, hand embroidery, gouache, and collage, 9″x12″
  7. Peace, hand embroidery, 22″x30″
  8. In spite of the unknown, she is the reflection of strength, hand embroidery, watercolor, and graphite, 22″x30″

Love Letters – Press Release

A visual love letter is a visual expression of my compassion, hopes, and dreams, depicted through mixed media paintings, for refugees around the world. My work involves collage, watercolor, and hand embroidery. I combine embroidered elements taken from Islamic architecture with collaged imagery from current events, while using a slightly updated color palette to express my hopes and dreams for refugees everywhere. 

My connection to refugees began during my graduate studies. Throughout graduate school, I studied about many people’s movements that were started because they protested about their desires for certain freedoms or changes to their government structure. However, these movements were quickly quelled with violence and the threat of violence dealt by the government, leaving people feeling desperate and helpless. Consequently, these people had to escape their countries, their homes, and all they loved to take refuge elsewhere in order to live life without the fear of violent backlash. Those who were unable to leave because of their circumstances had to endure instability and oppression within their homeland. 

In this day and age of Islamophobia fueled by propaganda, I wanted to not only acknowledge refugees, but refugees who largely practice the Islamic faith to show how amazing their culture is, while at the same time humanizing their experience. 

Known for its seemingly infinite repetition of shapes, colors, and patterns symbolizing unity and love, I was awed by the beauty of Islamic architecture. Researching the history and culture of these wondrous mosques led me further down the path to learn about the history of Islam. What I discovered was even more fantastic than what I could have ever expected. At the fall of the Roman Empire, Islamic scholars were studying the teachings of great Western scholars. The Islamic people took these teachings and put them into use by performing the first ocular surgery and also building the first organized infirmary, what we have come to know today as hospitals, for example. In short, the Islamic culture continued the path of Western philosophical and scientific thought and advanced it prior to the Renaissance.

I believe that if we learn more about each other to gain a better understanding of one another, we will have less fear about other people’s beliefs and live in a more compassionate world.

Many thanks to the very talented DLR Foto for some of these images!

 

 

 

 

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A Journey to Love Letters

Last August I was invited to exhibit at the Corvallis Art Center. At the time I received the invitation, I thought what better opportunity to gain confidence while at the same time learning more about, and refining my process. I began brainstorming ideas and started making pieces for the show. However, the more I explored my “why” and what I really wanted to express, the more I disliked my original idea and finally abandoned it.

Parallel to brainstorming, again, for the show, my Facebook feed had nothing but articles on the Syria crisis. I noticed that, really, none of my socially conscious friends were even acknowledging or talking about what was happening over there. It was devastating to read about how much violence and trauma these people were suffering and it began to weigh so heavily on my heart because nobody was talking about it or trying to do anything about it.

Finally, I tossed out my original idea, and I asked what resonated deeply within myself that I could no longer keep inside. *Poof* an idea popped in my head and I was off making. My exhibit entitled, Love Letters is my tribute to refugees all over the world and their undeniable strength they possess to forge a new path.

While I was sketching out ideas and putting things together, I found it difficult to make a show that expressed all my hope for them. Much of what I read in the news was conflicting with the imagery I wanted to put on paper. It was a tough balance to express the hope that resides in heart for them while acknowledging the violent realities they continue to live through. Not only that, but their humanity has been stripped away from them and are given many different labels that are… so disparaging and derogatory.

It’s my hope that with this exhibit I honor the people who seek sanctuary from violence by inspiring compassion in others.

In gratitude,

Laura