Longing for Attachment: Exhibition at Oakland Asian Cultural Center
About the Exhibition
Curated by Bushra Gill & presented by ArTogether, The Oakland Asian Cultural Center is proud to host "Longing for Attachment," a captivating exhibition running from June 14, 2024 to July 27, 2024. This exhibit brings together artists from diverse backgrounds to explore the profound theme of attachment, identity, and belonging. Through various artistic mediums, the exhibition delves into the intricate connections we forge with our heritage, culture, and personal experiences.
Artist's Statement
My name is Linah Sofi, and I am honored to have my artwork, Roses on Islamic Geometry, included in this meaningful exhibition. As a Muslim Saudi Arabian of Uyghur descent, my artistic journey reflects a deep exploration of identity, culture, and the struggle of establishing oneself in a foreign land. Through my art, I seek to connect with my roots while embracing my new life in the United States.
About the Piece: "Roses on Islamic Geometry"
Created in 2023, Roses on Islamic Geometry is a unique piece that combines delicate pink roses, painted in gouache, with the precise construction lines of Islamic art. This artwork is a personal reflection of my attachment to the foundation of my culture as an Arab Muslim living in the U.S. It speaks to the struggle of identity I experienced while being away from everything familiar, trying to establish myself as both a mother and an artist in a foreign land.
The roses and peonies in the artwork represent the growth and resilience I have cultivated on this journey. The visible construction lines of the Islamic geometry are a poignant reminder of my origins and spiritual beliefs, inspired by a tomb in Bukhara. For people of Uyghur descent like my family, this connection to Bukhara is deeply meaningful, as in Saudi Arabia, we are often referred to as Bukhari. The geometric patterns symbolize the deep-rooted cultural heritage that forms the foundation of my identity.
The interplay between the roses and the geometric patterns in my artwork is a visual representation of my dual heritage. The roses, the national flower of the United States, symbolize my life in America, where I migrated at the age of 24. They represent my adaptation to a new homeland, the beauty I find here, and the new roots I am planting. Each petal signifies a piece of my experience, growth, and the challenges faced as I navigate my new surroundings while cherishing the memories and traditions of my upbringing.
The Creative Process
Inspiration: Each piece begins with inspiration drawn from my heritage, personal experiences, nature, or spiritual reflections. My longing for my homeland inspired my ocean scenes, while my fascination with Islamic geometry and spirituality drives my current work.
Conceptualization: I spend time sketching rough drafts and thinking about how best to represent the themes and emotions I want to convey. Researching specific geometric patterns, cultural motifs, and artistic techniques is a crucial part of this stage.
Planning: With a clear concept, I plan the composition, color palette, medium, and overall layout. For my illumination work, I plan the intricate geometric patterns and where to incorporate gold leaf paint.
Creation: The creation process starts with drawing the basic outlines and construction lines. Precision and symmetry are crucial in laying out the geometric shapes and motifs.
Painting and Detailing: I apply the base colors and gradually build up layers, adding details and textures. For my illumination art, this includes applying gold leaf paint to highlight specific areas and bring a divine quality to the piece.
Refinement: Refining the piece involves making adjustments and adding final touches to enhance certain areas and ensure color harmony.
Reflection and Completion: I step back to evaluate the piece, making necessary adjustments until it feels right. Once satisfied, I sign and date the work.
Presentation: Preparing the piece for presentation includes framing or mounting it appropriately and sometimes writing an artist’s statement to accompany the work, explaining its significance and the creative journey behind it.
Final Thoughts
My artwork embodies the theme of "Longing for Attachment" by highlighting the challenges and complexities of forming connections while staying true to my cultural heritage. The visible construction lines serve as a metaphor for the ongoing process of building and redefining my identity, inviting viewers to reflect on their own paths of attachment and belonging.
As a third-generation Uyghur immigrant to Saudi Arabia, my family has always strived to maintain our cultural identity while adapting to new environments. This artwork captures my continuous search for attachment—to my Uyghur heritage, my Islamic faith, my Saudi upbringing, and my new life in the United States. Each element of the artwork is a piece of this complex puzzle, illustrating the diverse aspects of my identity and the emotional landscape of longing for a place where all these facets can coexist harmoniously.
Through the harmonious blend of roses and Islamic geometry, I hope to convey a message of hope, resilience, and the endless possibilities that come with embracing our diverse backgrounds. This piece is not just a personal expression but also an invitation for viewers to explore their own stories of attachment and identity. It encourages a dialogue about how we navigate our multiple identities and the ways in which we find, lose, and recreate our sense of belonging.
Join us at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center to experience this journey and explore the profound theme of "Longing for Attachment."
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