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The Dark Ages

Artist Blog by Ghada Khunji

I was born in Bahrain in 1967. I experienced kindergarten at Sacred Heart School and moved on to Bahrain School studying until graduation in ’85. At one point, Bahrain School boasted students from 51 nationalities. Upon graduation, I moved to the UK for college and then to the USA. Every year I’d return to Bahrain for the holidays. I was a third-culture kid. The advantage was having the opportunity to travel abroad. On top of that my own homeland exposed me to diverse cultures, people, and religions. The youngest of six children, I came from a moderate family. I remember fondly the people, music, laughter, and arts, but also a sense of prayer and good deeds. My father was a devout Muslim yet quite progressive. Education was very important to him, so all of my siblings had the opportunity to go abroad to study. I witnessed love, respect, and devotion all around. Bahrain harmoniously brought a church, temple, and mosque coexisting within walking distance. That was then This is now I am a Muslim. But first and foremost, I am a human being. When I view myself in that light, I can see that there are many others like me. I take out denominations, sub-divisions, pre-conceived notions, and newly formed radicalized definitions of words. As it’s said: We are all equal in the eyes of our creator. Muslim = Terrorist Words and imagery have taken a very hardcore twist; twittering or expressing oneself artistically is a sin punishable by death. From Charlie Hebdo to the badly lo-fi ISIS videos. After living abroad for over 25 years, I returned to Bahrain. Soon I was faced with the concepts of Middle Eastern art and also societal awareness which led to a closer scrutiny of my own art. I questioned myself until I formulated that all religions, all art, and most everything comes from one source - LIGHT, all we are merely doing is recycling that one pure source. In this new series, I’m not only exploring my vantage point on Islam but more importantly, how our minds have become so accustomed to certain symbols that we forget to see what’s on the surface. Most can identify a Mc as burgers, blue cans as Pepsi, and red cans as Coke. It’s easy to misjudge an appearance; if one is desperately searching for the needle in the haystack; he will find it! These pieces are my self-portraits, like they always are, a reflection of myself and this World I encompass. I feel ready to expose my identity as a human, a woman, a Muslim, and so on. This is merely my viewpoint, my personal menagerie of moments, thoughts, fears, and experiences that have ushered me along. After all, God is in all of us.

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