In the Dubai series I examine how living in and among the glass towers as a woman and a worker in the Gulf region sets the unpriviledged in the role of observer rather than participant. I lived and taught art in Dubai for two years. Being a woman in an Arab country forced me to spend a lot of time inside my beautiful high-rise apartment. The images for many of these paintings and drawings are from my days of staring out the window at the reflection in the building across from mine. I was fascinated by how the outside world, the road, the building I was in, the parking lot with the buildings around it, entered and exited the reflection seamlessly. It was difficult to tell what was illusion and what was real. In a sense, my view of the world was like Plato’s cave. I was only able to see shadows and reflections of reality. I thought about the other women who spent all day in the building and how this view was their reality as well. In Corner, I focus on the window washers dwarfed by the skyscrapers as they work. They were the little guys in the big world of global commerce, sending money to their families in Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. I watched from my window, a white collar imported worker, saving money to buy my house in the United States.
My time in Dubai coincided with the construction boom before the crash. Buildings were going up everywhere – in the middle of nowhere, out on land reclaimed from the ocean, and in between two buildings that were already too close for comfort. The Rebar drawings are of a building I watched being constructed night and day. I knew that when it was done, my view in that particular direction would be fully obstructed and I would be surrounded by a sea of windows.
My layering and collage processes reflect my subject matter. I paint paper and mylar and cut and reassemble the pieces to create collaged paintings. My buildings and landscapes are literally constructed in my collages. Part of my process involves making templates which are both full scale drawings and smaller templates of the various parts. I layer these together to make collaged drawings. Using these materials and methods is my answer to the modernist call to make process and material clear to the viewer.