Acrylic paint with seed beads, bugle beads, pearls, glass beads, and Swarovski crystal beads embroidered on canvas.
Stumpwork with acrylic paint and embroidered with cotton string, glass beads, stone beads (including amethyst, quartz, citrine, sillimanite, howlite, and amber), seed beads, pearls, and Swarovski crystal beads on muslin.
Dedicated to the Black Lives Matters movement.
Stuff Happens/Patterns of Life
Seed beads, glass beads, and hot-fix rhinestones on Air Force ABU fabric.
Stuff Happens/Pattern of Life is as much a personal reflection of my time in the US Air Force as an Iraqi Arabic linguist as it is a statement on the US Occupation of Iraq in 2003 and its ongoing military operations within the country since. It depicts the two phrases “Stuff Happens” and “Pattern of Life” aside beaded portraits of two Iraqi female survivors of airstrikes carried out by US drones during Operation Inherent Resolve, Kareema Khalid Suleiman and a little girl named Rahaf. The beaded portraits are based on photographs taken by Ivor Prickett that appeared in the New York Times article “The Human Toll of America’s Air Wars,” written by Azmat Khan and published on December 19, 2021. I have used a bright and cheerful color scheme to reflect the ways in which the corporal horrors of war have historically been sugar-coated by US administrations. I have also written in rhinestones the phrase “لا وجود للمدنيين”, which translates from Arabic as “No civilian presence.” The scene is set against a camouflage-patterned background, for which I used a pair of pants from one of old Airman Battle Uniforms (ABUs). The ABU was the uniform we wore for normal everyday duty, and was in service from 2007 until 2021, after which it was replaced by the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) camouflage pattern. The two portions of beaded text, as well as the altered colors of the American flag (done in rhinestones), are candy colored.
The main intent behind this piece is to challenge the US government’s high threshold for “collateral damage” in its war against global terrorism. The phrase “Stuff Happens” is an allusion to the devastating loss of Iraqi cultural heritage in the fallout from the collapse of the Saddam regime. When the US began its occupation of Iraq in the wake of the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the ensuing chaos triggered a series of mass lootings of cultural artifacts from the country’s cultural sector. When confronted with the devastating loss of Iraqi cultural heritage, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apathetically responded, “Stuff happens.”
The phrase “Pattern of Life” alludes to the magnitude of human collateral damage that has occurred in Iraq as a result of US military operations. In an effort to eradicate Da’esh (ISIS) militants from Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, US airstrikes have also targeted and killed a large number of Iraqi civilians.