This body of work began as an exploration of censorship in Saudi Arabia and it's effects on visual communication. While there is a lack of consistency from region to region, overall, images are highly scrutinized and controlled. Some superficial examples of this would be skirts lengthened and sleeves crudely added with black markers in magazines or blurred out faces on billboards.
I tried to apply the language of the censors to my personal photographs. I began making line drawings, omitting faces and skin. Keeping only the essentials preserved the anonymity of my subjects. This allowed me to circumvent, and comment on, some of the cultural taboos associated with photography. Namely the stigma attached to bringing the “personal portrait”, commonly reserved for the private domestic space, into a public sphere.
It became a game of how much can you tell with how little. When reduced to sketches, the images achieved enough distance from the original photographs that neither subjects nor censors could find them objectionable. For me, they became autonomous, relatable, pared down narratives.
I've always been interested in how photography functions, and I try to undermine any documentary authority it may possess as a medium. I've always felt that a photograph functions more like a memory, in that it's a singular perspective of a split second in time, entirely subjective and hence impressionable. By etching these drawings back into film and printing them in a traditional darkroom, I'm trying to point out how malleable it is as a medium, even before digital manipulation became so advanced and accessible. With these interventions emerges a highly coded and self-reflexive language. What also interests me is that the information omitted (faces, skin and emulsion) creates an image of its own, as do the censors to our cultural landscape.
Born in Saudi Arabia, 1978. Currently between New York City and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Tufts & The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, MFA in Mixed Media.
Medford/Boston, Massachusetts: 2001 - 2004
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Postbaccalaureate Diploma in Mixed Media Boston, Massachusetts 2000-2001
Wellesley College, BA in Film Theory. Wellesley, Massachusetts: 1996-2000
Out of Line – The Schneider Gallery. Chicago.
Sticks and Stones - The Artist Foundation, Boston, MA.
Selected Group Exhibitions
(upcoming) American ReConstruction - Winkelman Gallery, New York, NY.
(upcoming) Art Chicago – with Witzenhausen Gallery, Chicago, IL.
(upcoming) ZsONAMACO – with Witzenhausen Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico.
See Flat! Be Sharp! @ Art Dubai with Athr Gallery, Dubai, UAE
Scope NYC – with Witsenhausen Gallery, New York, NY
Pulse NYC – with Aperture Foundation, New York, NY
Drawing Pictures – The Camera Club New York, NY
The Year In Pictures – Danziger Projects, New York, NY
Art Palm Beach - with Aperture Foundation, Palm Beach, USA
Paris Photo – with Aperture Foundation, Paris France.
Slideluck Potshow XIV, Inside Out – Aperture Gallery, New York, NY
Aleppo 10th International Photo Festival- Aleppo, Syria.
2009 National Juried Exhibition - Sylvia White Gallery, Venture, CA
Photo-Op, 14th Annual Exhibition Juried by Jen Bekman - Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle, WA
2-3-d-12 - Energy Gallery, Toronto, Canada
2009 National Juried Photography Show - Louisville Art Association, Louisville, CO
Sting! 5: Pop Rocks – The Beehive, Boston, MA
Altered States - Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, MA. Two person show with Curtis
Re-Orientation – European Parliament, Brussels. Curated by Rose Issa and Sarah
Best of 2008 -. Marziart international Gallery. ,Hamburg, Germany.
The September Show - Project30.com.
I (pronoun) - Project30.com.
Fetish Gesture - G.A.S.P. Gallery, Boston, MA.
Second Space - Grub St. Gallery, Boston, MA.
Maximum Flavor: Nicole Cherubini, William Cordova, Sara Haas, Nikki S. Lee,
Jonathan Seliger, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, and Hank Willis Thomas." –
Atlanta College of Art. Atlanta, GA. (Under Alias: Sara Haas)
XO – Between The Lines. MFA Thesis Exhibition. Aidekman Art Center. Medford MA.
But is it Drawing? - The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Third Annual Graduate Student Show. Grossman Gallery, Boston, MA.
A Polish Princess in America: Show of Private Art Collection of Princess Sophia Solar
Michalski. McQuade Library Art Gallery, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA
Second Annual Graduate Student Show - Grossman Gallery, Boston, MA
The Empresses’ New Cloths - Brookline Arts Center. Brookline, MA
Postbaccalaureate Show - The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Video Screening - Collins Cinema. Wellesley, MA
Electronic Imaging - Jewette Art Center, Wellesley, MA.
Annual Photography Show - Jewette Art Center, Wellesley, MA.
Awards & Publications
Contemporary Practices – Volume VI. London, UK 2010
Next Level 17 – Persian Gulf Edition. London, UK 2009
Aperture Foundation Portfolio Prize - Runner-up. New York, NY 2008.
International Drawing Annual 2008 – Manifest Press, Cincinnati, OH 2008
Reorientation – Contemporary Arab Representations. Edited by Rose Issa, European
Communities, Luxembourg, 2008
Bibliography & Reviews
Micky Larousse. The Art of Anonymity. Campaign ME, July, 2009
Kate McQuade. All the Way Down to the Details. The Boston Globe, April 2009
Photography Meets Mash-up Culture. Center Stage Chicago, October 2008
Michael Weinstein. Jowhara AlSaud @ Schneider Gallery. Newcity Art, October 2008
Kate McQuade. Going to Extremities. The Boston Globe. April 2006