The Great Mothers
In the Islamic faith, the Mothers of Believers were twelve remarkable women chosen to lead the nation. While Prophet Mohammed surrounded himself with his male disciples, he shared a more intimate connection with a select group of women—his wives.
This exhibition serves as a prelude to a larger one scheduled for next year at the MIA. It includes works-in-progress and finished pieces that pay tribute to two exceptional women who left permanent marks on the world: Khadijah and Hafsah.
Khadijah, Muhammad's first wife, was the first Muslim. Her unwavering support played a pivotal role in the triumph and endurance of Islam. In my work, I usually juxtapose portraits against a backdrop of Islamic and Arabic patterns. I have been experimenting with octagonal designs, inserting a famous scene from Khadijah's life. In it she provided refuge to her husband after being alarmed by Gabriel's first appearance in Hira's cave, where he meditated. I called this work "Contain Me."
Hafsah bint Omer, a later wife of Muhammad, undertook the monumental responsibil- ity of preserving the Qur'an until early khalifs could transcribe it. This contribution es- tablishes her as a crucial figure in disseminating Islamic teachings. The installation "The Scribe" is an homage to her. In this work, I created a large cutout painting on wood. Then I screen-printed canvas sheets with a pattern of this portrait's outline and a twelve-fold Is- lamic motif.
This is a new approach to the portrait for me. Instead of incorporating it in the canvas im- agery, I made it stand out in front.
Scholars have long recognized the pivotal role these women played in shaping the Islam we know today, and contemporary researchers are increasingly realizing that their influ- ence may be even more profound than previously acknowledged.