I often joke that I’ve been locked in existential crisis since age 12. Even then, I could not unite my identity with my family’s de-facto faith, my interest in science with mystical dogmatism. There’s nothing unique about this: what human hasn’t seen tension between their modern experience and the magical universe of ancient religions? My work is a reflection of this struggle: an attempt to find a visual language that operates outside of bias, appreciates both order and entropy, and digs for a dynamic representation of existence.
I was introduced to a basic tenet of Islamic art and architecture at a young age. Islamic artisans sought to communicate grace and exaltation without representation. They substituted geometry and repetition for allegorical narratives and idolatry. For me, the idea that spirituality could be transmitted through the basic principles of structure, form, and composition imbued abstraction with purpose and significance.
I examine these themes to inform my work, not to mimic them. The goal is not to emulate the the patterns of antiquity, but to create my own unique visual language. This lead me to an interest in the emergent patterns of biology and geology--the growth of a vine, the colonization of bacteria, the erosion of a valley. Made-made or natural, patterns emerge from the repetition of seemingly random constraints.
For years, my work wandered. In 2015, I began strip down my concepts to reveal a more basic understanding of how to progress. I asked: how are humans biologically attuned to recognizing patterns? How does the eye identify movement, contrast, and color? Eventually, I distilled these questions in one: What separates randomness from order? I moved toward designing flat hard-edged patterns using a highly contrasting color palette.
To develop a pattern, I establish a set of rules. What is the shape and size of the repeating unit? How do they relate? I subtract areas and emphasize others to create tension through asymmetry and negative space, an important divergence from traditional Islamic art, which insisted on symmetry and density.
Every day I see the pervasiveness of patterns across cultures. I’m eager to assert my work among them. I am aware of the lofty goals of my work, but also of the clarity with which it must speak, and I and focus my gaze.