Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elizabeth A. Jabar's Inseparable Marriage of Cultures

Elizabeth A. Jabar's work opens the door to a world, that to a Western eye, seems exotic and evocative of things seen and unseen: through veils and layers of understanding and visual combinations of tradition and observation. Jabar presents a mixture of different cultural elements that capture our attention and makes us curious about her selections of feminine imagery; and the perceptions of their creative history. Her art work, as seen in the image above,  incorporates printed images of Lebanese Bedouin women wearing traditional garments, with hand-sewn applique. The effect is a stunning reveal of what is not seen, what is covered up. The garments are covering the women completely except for the face, and upon closer inspection of traditional Lebanese dress, the fabrics and veils are gorgeously woven and combined to create an almost dizzying effect of texture and color.

The ornamentation of metal, jewelry and what appear to be hanging vines, or flowers, as found in the image below, add a layer of placement and adornment. The subtle layering that hand-sewing onto the print help to further obscure and veil the women, which are printed in half-tones so we have to strain to see them clearly, thus creating an aura of mystery and exoticism.

Jabar fluidly weaves between traditional forms of decorative arts from her Lebanese Bedouin heritage and combines them with her artistic sensibilities. She repeats matrix images and uses them as her starting point of reference, but her process of layering which may include several print process with collage and sewing, creates a denser image and one where the viewer has to concentrate harder to see what's underneath. The threads that weave and bind together her imagery make a symbolic connection between woven fabrics and cultural ties.
 Jabar's craft orientation also mandates that several  prints may become sewn together, continuing in the vein of  Middle Eastern woven fabrics. This affinity she has with her Bedouin past is respectfully played out in her execution and marries her interests in culture, media and art to create a meditative and intensely satisfying series for the eyes and for the senses.

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