Painting is an anomalous need I have in pursuit to constantly express the inexpressible. My subjects are a language I made from my obsession with differences. At first glance, you can see the natural and unnatural. Getting piercings was always deemed taboo in my family, yet when I would get them, they made me feel in control of myself. The floral subjects of my work are the natural side of me. Being a natural woman is something my mother always encouraged, however, being born in America is what affects my difference in taste and experience.
As a first-generation artist, I feel as if I am always trying to go home. Home to me is certain florals and fragrances attached to memories from Beirut and Aleppo, that only I can remember from visiting and living there every summer. Growing up in New Jersey or the “Garden State” allowed me to also be constantly surrounded by greenery. Since my Jeddo was a farmer in Syria, he planted so many florals, fruits, and vegetables when he was forced to live in NJ. Through doing that, he was trying to make his current landscape feel and remind him of home, which is what I do in painting. When I moved to New York 12 years ago, I found myself suddenly surrounded by everything unnatural all the time. I became obsessed with all these differences constantly, and I believe that is what makes me who I am. Always slightly uncomfortable, but finding beauty in the present to get closer to the past. My home is far away memories from Lebanon and Syria, to now the gritty man-made New York City.
Flowers tend to hold different meanings to many people, and I love working with them to invite the viewer to place their own meanings and feelings inside my work. They symbolize love and they can also symbolize death, which is another contrast I always think about.
In relation to death, survival is a constant on the minds of Arab Americans. I find solace in painting flowers, so they can bloom forever and survive through my work. I intend to continue learning and listening to my elders. Like my flowers, I realize the contrast of how different I am from them, or how altered I am from them, but it is important to me to keep their stories and legacy surviving through my work.