I create wearable-performative characters that embody ideals and tell stories. I call my characters ‘Fine Art Superheroes’ because just like comic-book characters, my heroes wear costumes representing the values they embody. I create my costumes by hand, using fabric paint, cotton leotards, and various materials for the headpieces. I use Fine Arts patterns from different cultures to create unique character identities which visually connect to each character's theme. After creating the suits I collaborate with dancers to create live performances and photographs which explore each character's identity and personal narrative. Through my characters I uncover new ideas, make connections and find answers to deeper questions about sciences, spirituality, myth-making, and the creative process.
2010: The Untitled Man is the avatar for creativity. This work marked my first foray into wearable art. This character was inspired by one of my Black Drawings series, which dealt with stages in the artist’s metamorphosis. To bring this character out of the drawing space, I started studying medical illustrations of various biological systems. I used my drawings to generate a new system, a “creatory system” on the body. I painted the motif onto a cotton unitard using fabric paint, and after sculpting a helmet and mask, the costume was finished in 2010.
2012: Electrostar embodies perfect synchronicity. Electrostar’s interwoven geometric pattern comes from a motif in Arabic architecture. Electrostar’s body contains dark blue shapes representing space, silver lines representing the paths of the electrons, and light blue glow representing the electron cloud. This work helped me better understand how energy creates the illusion of separateness and masks the true vastness of space.
2013: Doñagdeo is the avatar for transformation. Doñagdeo is both a sorcerer and a warrior. She is present where ever pioneering souls are making new discoveries, especially in the realms of sciences and spirituality. The patterns in Doñagdeo's suit come from arabesque architecture, while the helmet is inspired by my exposure to the uniqueness and originality of Samurai Helmets. Doñagdeo's helmet is of my own design. She is named after a word for "bad dreams" invented by Dorothy Bryant in her sci-fi classic, the 'Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You'.
2013: Remon represents 'Protest'. This superhero suit explores the incredible beauty and power of protesting for positive change. The black and white color scheme references the clarity of protesters on issues of justice. The suit features Arabic calligraphy as it's motif. Throughout the suit are letters, but no words. In this way this represents the sounds and noise of a protest with large groups of people. There's only one word on suit. the word "no" in Arabic, crosses the chest and back of the suit, and rises above other truncated letters. Protest also has a transcendental side. The helmet design uses the arabic word 'Hu', one of the 99 names of Allah in Sufi spiritual practice.
2017: Eluzre was a collaboration between myself and choreographer Jenny Oliver. Oliver approached me about creating a suit for a Hatian Lua known as Erzule. Erzule is the Haitian African spirit of love, beauty, jewelry, dancing, luxury, and flowers. In this project, the motif comes from Haitian "veve" line drawings and patterns, and I wanted to connect those patterns a sense of cosmic power and universal presence. The black background is both the vastness of black space in the universe, and of course, represents Erzule as spirit of a black women. Jenny Oliver's company commissioned this project through a grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. This project was completed in 2017, and was used in performance by Modern Connections Dance theater at the We Create Festival in Boston.
2018 In progress: Pir in Farsi means feather, and it also represents an elder, teacher, or guide in the Sufi tradition. When I started this project I felt it was going to be a project representing an idea of male beauty. It seems media today spends a great deal of time addressing the negative aspect of males in western society - their privileged and cultural aggression. But I think that is really a western problem. I want to make a suit that focuses on the beautiful parts of being male. In many cultures men are prominent as dancers and warriors and in plenty of examples the two art forms are conflated into one. Pir-i-Dalil to me represents the best qualities of men, including an inner beauty, an colorful order, and a heart as light as feathers.