“Technicolor Muslimah” is a series of portraits of American Muslim women. As the most recognizable and visible representatives of the religion, they are also the most exoticized,
homogenized, and misunderstood. The people of the Muslim faith and those who come from (or are descendants of) these vastly diverse cultures of the so-called “Muslim world” are often
simplified into mysterious “others.” Apparently different in every way, they are perceived as being the exact opposite of “Western.”
As absurd as it is, there is still a need to emphasize the fact that “Muslim” and “American” are not mutually exclusive identities. As such, these paintings are a great way to begin discussion and connection, to understand individuals who are incorrectly defined by a singular label in a more fluid and inclusive manner, and to recognize the unity that binds us all together. Even as Americans, these women are representatives of their diverse backgrounds, and blend their international and American heritage. These images show an overlap between the East and the West, reflecting a society that is becoming increasingly global in its influences. In addition, the series shows the vibrance and humor that exists within Muslim women, an aspect of their character that has been vastly underrepresented in our media.
At first glance, the paintings are of Muslim women wearing headscarves. Upon closer examination, however, we see that they are people.
18" x 18"
"I've known I've wanted to be a teacher since I was 8 years old. Looking into a smiling child's face can make one of my worst days into one of the best days of my life. I'm 25 years old, but I still love watching movies like high school musical and camp rock (Disney movies). I always try to see the good in people even if they can't see the good in themselves. I love Ziploc bags, aluminum foil and paper clips."
"YO! People call me small but mighty because I'm 4'11.5" and I make it all count. I've started about a million different projects- including my own rap- but probably won't finish any of them to completion (it's about the process, y'all!). Country music gets a bad rap, but I think most people just haven't learned how to appreciate the twang. I love languages and cultures, and I think the only way we can connect to other cultures is by laughing at ourselves and not keeping it pc (politically correct). Whenever my dad sees a dog, he tells us to give it to a hungry Korean. Keep it real, keep it fresh- and always love your momma to death."
Sarah A., Mother
"I love watching Food Network and the Cooking Channel but have never attempted any of their recipes. My son's smile in the morning makes me forget how tired I really am. I envy people who have time to read books for fun. I always feel the need to fill awkward silences. I never wished I had a sister - my best friends were always enough."
"Thunderstorms remind me of my grandfather. In the fall, I have an unhealthy obsession with pumpkin butter. Picard over Kirk, but Spock over Data. I love the way my parents smell. I wish it was winter all the time because I love the food, sweaters, and fireplaces. I regret not keeping up with fencing. I married the boy who sat behind me in senior English class. I enjoy being a lawyer, but I deeply wish I was an astronaut. I play fetch with my cat. Sometimes, the voice in my head has a British accent."
Ayesha K., Educator
"I laugh at my own jokes. I think children like me so much because I look like a child myself. I used to pray that Justin Timberlake would convert to Islam so I could marry him. My mom is my role model. Nice strangers make my day. I want to be remembered for my compassion towards others."
"I like to run over cups and cans on the road with my car and I would wash a sink-full of dishes before emptying the dishwasher. I am a huge sports fanatic and bleed Duke blue until the end. The sound of my son's laughter melts my heart, but the smell of his diapers melts my brain. I married my best friend and took over his business - that's how I roll."
"I'm notorious for making a 5 second event into a 15 minute story. I love the smell of gasoline in the mornings as much as I despise green beans. I believe everyone has the ability to change themselves for the better. I'm not ashamed of loving stale Twizzlers, and I've always been proud to be called a nerd."
Sara Y., Writer
"For a Palestinian, I have really bad aim. I’ve always been restless, and maybe this stems from having one foot in the nostalgia of my parents, and the other somewhere below the Bible Belt. I’m an accidental writer and full-time feminist. I’ve always been afraid of teenagers, even when I was one myself. I’ve never belonged, and I’ve found comfort in my hodgepodge identity. I just can't be a ninja. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut-princess-actress-teacher. I wrote letters to NASA asking for a kid-sized space suit. I feel deeply and love easily because I want to see beauty in the world around me. I only see in big, technicolor pictures. It still gets me into trouble."
Ayesha A, Photographer
"When I first started taking pictures, it was all about nature – I couldn’t stand to have people in my pictures. Now they’re all I know how to capture. People have stories, and I live and breathe stories. If I pick up a good book, I won’t put it down until it’s done, no matter how much sleep I lose. I have to read in the bathroom, and at the table, although while I’m eating I prefer reading recipes. I can sing songs in Punjabi, Hindi, Japanese, French, Georgian, Gaelic, Latin and Elvish. I’m pathologically nonconfrontational and feel physically ill when someone’s upset with me personally. I love helplessly. I have absolutely no fashion sense, but real beauty is sacred to me – experiencing it or creating it. My son is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life."
Sarah O., Engineer
"I always sing my heart out in the shower. I love dancing in front of mirrors. I have a tendency to memorize all the words in a commercial, song or movie. I have psychic dreams, binge on m&Ms, and always put my favorite songs on repeat for long periods of time. Most of all, I think everybody has a story and I want to listen to them all."
Sara H., Biochemist
"I'm that student that laughs at the teacher's jokes because I actually find them hilarious. I'm really outgoing but usually a hot mess on the inside. I actually study for fun--and I'm talking, like, chemistry. I'm a biochemist with a love of artsy craftsy things like sewing and knitting. If I have a question I go looking for the answer, and it drives me crazy if I can't figure it out. It takes me an hour in the store to pick out pens and pencils because they have to be perfect in size, weight, and color. I've been called a marshmallow, tough on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. The women in my family have been a constant net of support, love and encouragement letting me know I can do anything, especially my mother, I would be nothing without her."
"I respect myself too much to keep people in my lives who don't realize my value. I worked too hard to become a strong woman to listen to anybody put me down. My little sisters are the only reasons I want to succeed in life. I want them to have the strong woman figure in their lives that I never had. I smile at people when I walk because I know how much one smile can bring someone back from the brink of suicide. I talk to myself constantly and would love to move to an abandoned mountain and read books my whole life. My number one strength is "connectedness" and anybody who knows me can attest to that. I try to find my imperfections every day because they remind me of the beauty of humanity. I have (and still do) dreamed about finding my mutant powers and becoming a super hero. Dedicating my career to fight for victims of human trafficking is probably the closest I will ever come. Still, I'm waiting for Professor X to visit me and/or my Hogwarts letter to come in any day now. I may be a decade too old but who knows, owls sometimes get lost."