I first started working with collage about thirty-five years ago. Newly arrived at a drab compound on the outskirts of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I was desperate for some kind of occupation. I had grown up with art- on the walls of my home and hung in the art galleries my parents took me to regularly. Sadly, though my dad painted beautifully, drawing and painting are not my forte so I’d long since given up any dreams of becoming an artist. At any rate, the Jeddah of that time did not run to art supplies for adults. Nevertheless, I was desperate and my kids had scissors and glue. I began cutting up magazines, rearranging the pieces into pictures, and discovered a talent for composition.
I soon found that all my pictures told stories – not so surprising in an inveterate reader. Somewhere along the way Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes came along – one of those rare life-altering books that change everything. Wolves led me into the study of symbols and my work took on richness and depth as I began augmenting my unconscious expressions with my new knowledge of the multiple meanings an image can hold.
Concurrently with my development as a visual artist I began to write. It began with letters home- long descriptions of the exotic life of the town and the marvelous solitude of desert spaces. Gradually, my two interests began to merge. The long letters to family and friends continued but for myself I wrote more succinctly, paring the words down to their essence, looking for the story kernel. Poetry inspired art; art inspired poetry.
So much has followed – novels (I just finished my latest, Magdalene A.D.), memoir, plays, two volumes of poetry, so many works of art, such amazing collaborations with wonderful women. Meanwhile, life marched on – easy, difficult, sad, glorious, dreary, tedious, messy, and delightful in turn.
I’m enamored of it all, but of all I’ve learned the most valuable lesson was learning to develop, deepen and depend on the friendship of women. Most of my writing concerns women and most of my collages feature them. My soul is firmly rooted in the feminine divine. So it is with great pleasure that I begin this new endeavor with Michelle Anglin, treasured friend and fellow artist. May the spirits of the four directions bless us with inspiration, passion, insight and generosity. Blessed Be.