The Ashes Series
The Ashes Series depicts the suffering of war not through human displays of emotion, but rather through the absence of human life in once occupied homes. It investigates the impact of the destruction of these private, domestic spaces in war and media images of such destruction. These intimate spaces are literally ripped open and become public through external violence and the act of destruction. The images exist in the aftermath of atrocity, with the presence of the human spirit represented only by the monochromatic whiteness of the ashes. These images also serve as mirrors to my desire to return home to Iraq when this is not possible, as well as to explore the duality of my life as a former Iraqi refugee and as an Arab American between two clashing worlds. Reconstructing the destroyed spaces provides a way for me to exist within them and, in a sense, to rebuild the places in Iraq where my brother and father were killed. As an artist I constantly negotiate between the expression of aesthetic pleasure, which is necessary to seduce the eye, and conveying the aesthetic pain of destruction. The Ashes Series represents my attempt to make sense of destruction and to preserve the moment of serenity after the dust has settled: to give the ephemeral moment extended life in a mix of beauty and violence.