Size: 22 x 40 x 19
Medium: Acrylic, beads, paper, found objects, lights on trunk & wood
Sitti refers grandmother in Palestinian Arabic but more literally means “my lady”. And without a doubt my grandmother was some lady.
Always graceful, no matter how old and stooped she became, Sitti embodied that imagery of that noble yet determined Arabic woman. I carry in my mind’s eye maybe a thousand legends – she sang like an opera singer, spoke like the most educated polyglot, had a will like a soldier, the temper of a firecracker, and a life tragic, beautiful, and complicated. In al-Nabka, the 1948 civil war between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, she faced the death of her husband, her son, and many many others and transformed herself from bourgeois housewife into refugee and breadwinner. She then brought my dad to United States, worked till he had his education & became an adult.
We crossed paths at the end of her life and the beginning of mine. Sitti to me was that link to a mythical homeland. She grew a fig tree in her yard, picked roses & mint, and sang. Habibi! Elbi! she would cry as she laughed and threw stories of war, donkeys, people I never knew, and places forgotten.
This work attempts to channel that nobility, mystery, and warmth that I felt as a youth while evoking the competing, sometimes contradictory legends she always told me.