I used to use images of Muslim women in the chador and veil as images of oppression of women who are victimzed by a misogynist world view which is engendered by a medieval version of religious fundamentalism that sees women as "other", as chattel, as property and slaves.
Now, in more recent work, the scope of the symbolism has expanded. Now these women also represent for me all the people around the world that my own country considers the "other"--those of different religious views or skin color, those who do not subscribe to the corporate lifestyle and materialistic values, those who refuse to remain silent in the face of injustice.
So now, I title this piece simply Women, as we are all women everywhere held behind the fences erected by unjust lawmakers, religious fundamentalists, bellicose politicians, and their retrograde attitudes governing individual relations within families, communities, and countries.
Worst of all, like the orthodox Muslim women who support the system that oppresses them, we build the fences that cage us in. We sometimes unknowingly support the religious and governmental leaders that impose the repressive systems that diminish us all as human beings.
We are no different, here in America, from the women in Arab lands who willingly submit to miosgynist religious leaders. We ourselves hide behind walls composed of all the elements of pre-emptive global war: daisy chains of military bases spanning continents, computer databases tracking our every transaction and our reading habits, nuclear missiles threatening to spark the war to end all civilization including our own, and secret police given ever-increasing powers in the name of homeland security.
We willingly create our own walled communities to isolate ourselves from people with less money or different skin color, and we pay a premium to live in these suburban fortresses where we park our armored cars, our gas-guzzling SUVs, which suck the oil we must make war upon the world to secure.
We are all in chador. We are all in mourning for the passing of civilization. But we still have eyes, uncovered, that can see.
Read more about my work in my artist statement, Creating Spiritual Art for the New Millenium and resume.