Listen to the Story:
Blanket making, porcelain cup decorating, wrap doll assembling, and video tutorials were just some of the activities happening in room 207 of San Francisco’s War Memorial Veterans Building during Memorial Day Weekend last year. The building was the original site of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and in celebration of the museum’s 75th anniversary Allison Smith led the Arts & Skills Service project. The event reenacted a collaboration between SFMOMA and the American Red Cross during World War II that provided hands-on projects for returning and convalescing GIs. In researching for the project, Allison looked back at the museum’s early calendars and discovered that all kinds of craft activities were occurring along with support for the GIs. “The museum lost almost half of the staff to the war during World War II and so it was really fascinating to look at these calendars and kind of imagine a time when the modern art museum was so involved in the war effort,” says Allison.
Performing History Through Making
Her work draws from an interest in historical reenactment and ways of bringing people together to engage with issues hand-on. “I’m really interested in the idea of taking history into your own hands and in my projects I’m constantly trying to encourage people to insert their own narratives, to shift those histories, to really claim those and critique those, and own those narratives for themselves.”
“When I went to art school I majored in sculpture, but I also was strongly influenced by readings that I was doing in psychology. When I was doing lots of research into Civil War reenacting I was really thinking about how these objects that are used in reenactments are kind of keys to the past, like keys to time travel, and so I was thinking about these objects as props that could take you back to visit a trauma that was unresolved. I’ve always been fascinated with living history museums and the way that people are performing history through making.”
“One of the biggest inspirations for me as an artist is trench art and that is art made by soldiers in the context of war either on the battlefields, in training centers, in convalescent zones like hospitals, and sometimes in prisoner of war camps,” says Allison. “One of the most powerful forms and one of the most common was to make flower vases. They would take these expended artillery shells and they would fill them with molten lead that they melted over a camp fire from bits of shrapnel they collected. Then they would hammer into them with really prude tools from a bent nail to a piece of shrapnel. But usually they are incised and hammered with all sorts of patterns and one of the interesting things is the imagery that they used was often from ladies’ magazines.”
“These objects of trench art were used as a form of currency. They were traded on a sort of black market on the trenches for things like food, writing materials, or cigarettes. They were sent home as love letters. A lot of the times if a soldier passed away his friends would send one home to that soldier’s family.”
Martha Stewart meets CIA
For Allison, the combination of making things and a history of her family’s involvement in the military industrial complex was a large influence on her as she was growing up. From an early age she was introduced to the art of crafting by her mother who taught her how to do patchwork quilting, decorative painting, candy making, and cake decorating. “She’s sort of the early Martha Stewart acolyte,” describes Allison. On the other hand, her father made spy gear. Growing up with a CIA dad, she recalls a tool chest that he promised to give her in his will that “has all sorts of amazing tools for opening people’s letters without opening it and prisms that kind of off sets laser beams and really sort of 007 kinds of things. So I grew up in a really creative household but one that was very much about patriotism and always with this kind of underlying sense of ominous things happening in far off lands that I had thought were terrifying and couldn’t really fully understand. I definitely see myself as a product of that environment and sort of thinking about the idea of what it means to perform nationalism in the everyday and kind of questioning that.”
To learn more about Allison Smith’s latest work visit her website www.allisonsmithstudio.com.
[clockwise from top: Allison holding a shell art vase. Sewing station. Ehren Tool and his cup workshop.]
Music from the Story
Heart Harmonicon by Colleen
1/1 by Brian Eno
Sea of Tranquility by Colleen
Piano Recording & Guitar played by Chris Skebo and Justin Nash at the event
Special Thanks to Allison Smith, Frank Smigiel, Ehren Tool, Patrick Gillespie & SFMOMA.
Portrait of Allison Smith photographed by Vincent Dillio. Additional photographs by The Kitchen Sisters.
|This story was produced by our intern Patty Fung in collaboration with the Kitchen Sisters. Patty has been a contributing blogger for the Hidden World of Girls series and has produced multimedia work for the Kitchen Sisters on various projects.|
Popularity: 1%"> Website.
This traveling exhibition, curated by Jennifer Heath, features more than thirty works of art that explore the veil in its broadest and most universal contexts. Organized into three thematic sections – The Sacred Veil, The Sensuous Veil, and The Sociopolitical Veil – the show aims to transcend current clichés and stereotypes of Islamic practices and to investigate the importance of the veil throughout human history.
The veiling of women, men, and sacred places has existed in countless cultures and religions throughout history. Veiling expands far beyond Islam and the Middle East, yet it is vastly misunderstood and is a battleground, today, for power and political agendas. The artists included in this exhibition examine issues such as modesty, oppression, liberation, freedom of expression, spirituality, nature, and magic. They represent diverse backgrounds, spiritual practices and points of view. Through their work, the artists in this show challenge, condemn, embrace, and praise the veil.
A visual companion to the curator Jennifer Heath’s edited volume, The Veil: Women Writers on its History, Lore, and Politics (University of California Press), this exhibition includes works in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and new media. The Veil also includes an interactive component called What Does the Veil Mean to You? In this activity, visitors are encouraged to share their responses on brightly colored silk headscarves that are displayed on laundry lines.
Artists in the exhibition include Sama Alshaibi, Tulu Bayar, Tiffany Besonen, Elizabeth Bisbing, Christine Breslin, Jo-Ann Brody, Fatma Charfi, Juliet Davis, Rebecca DiDomenico, Yassi Golshani, Ana Maria Hernando, Valari Jack, Tsehai Johnson, Tania Kamal-Eldin, Deb King, Mary Kite and Ana Baer-Carillo, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Anita Kunz, Judith Selby Lang, Victoria May, Aphrodite Desirée Navab, Brenda Oelbaum, Sara Rahbar, Larissa Sansour, Mary Tuma, Kim Turos, Kerry Vander Meer, Eve Whittaker, Sherry Wiggins, and Helen Zughaib. The Veil is organized by independent curator Jennifer Heath.Curated by Jennifer Heath, the traveling exhibition is a companion to her book “The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore and Politics.
More from Jennifer Heath’s blog
The Veil: Visible & Invisible Spaces
September 3, 2010 by jenniferheath
I have mentioned “the veil of the soul.” Something of the kind appearsindispensable in Art. We can, at any time, double the true beauty of an
actual landscape by half closing our eyes as we look at it. The naked Senses
sometimes see too little but then always they see too much.
– Edgar Allan Poe
Veiling – of women, men, and sacred places and objects – has existed among people of countless cultures and religions from time immemorial. Nevertheless, the veil is vastly misunderstood. Once upon a time, the veil in all its multiplicity was more or less taken for granted everywhere as, at the very least, an essential expression of the divine mysteries. Today, veiling is globally polarizing, a locus for the struggle between Islam and the West and between modern and traditional interpretations of Islam, a battleground for power and political agendas.
Yet veiling spans time long before Islam and space far beyond the Middle East.
The Veil: Visible & Invisible Spaces is a touring exhibition comprised of works by twenty-nine women – videographers, photographers, filmmakers, painters, and sculptors, as well as new media, textile, performance, and installation artists – each of whom considers the veil in many of its manifestations and interpretations. The exhibition intends to engage received wisdom about the veil and to reflect on the great ubiquity, importance, and profundity of the veil in its broadest contexts. The artists represent diverse societies, spiritual practices, locations, accomplishments, and attitudes. Their works converse with one another creating a larger and more rounded picture than is usually presented in popular discourse.
Visible & Invisible Spaces is a visual companion to and was inspired by my edited volume, The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore, and Politics (University of California Press, 2008), in which twenty-one writers and scholars give first-hand accounts of the significance of veiling in their personal and spiritual lives and within their cultures and communities. Having worked with writers, with wonderful results, and having
an early background in the visual and performing arts, I wanted to see how artists might also investigate and re-vision the veil. That the anthology and exhibition are comprised exclusively of women is appropriate considering that the veil is commonly associated with females and – even when men wear it – has a feminine pulse.
To my knowledge, the book and show are distinctive in that they bring together, for the first time, manifold – sometimes contradictory – perspectives from numerous traditions, with the intention of displaying how veiling goes far beyond the narrow confines of one group or the prejudices of a moment. My hope is that these projects are transformative and eye opening and can help to alter superficial, exploitative, or hidebound points of view.
What is this pictured form, this monarch and this prince?
What is this old wisdom? They are all veils.
The remedy against veils is ecstasies like this.
–Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi
The veil is infinitely visual, yet it is also a means of concealment. The veil is itself mystery, even as it is the shroud that guards the mystery. In Sama Alshaibi’s “Witness,” a pregnant, masked woman stands in calm anticipation, the outer self dissolving toward the life growing within. It’s almost as if the mask is a caul, the filmy membrane that covers the faces of some infants at birth, so that they are said to be “veiled” and therefore to have “the sight.”
As much as the veil is fabric or garment, it is also a concept. Veils are theatre, illusion, artifice, architecture, masquerade, deception, alchemy, and transformation, dream, euphemism, and metaphor, depression, hallucination, holiness, emancipation, or protection. As Tsehai Johnson shows us in “Window,” veils are panes and portholes, inviting the light, restraining the elements, clarifying, or distorting knowledge. The word veil comes from the Latin uelum, a sail, cloth, or standard. The verb velare, to veil, means to conceal. Revelation comes from revelatio, to draw back the veil, to reveal.
Veiling is found everywhere and begins in Nature. It’s likely that human beings conceived the idea of veiling by observing Nature’s mysteries: in the butterfly’s cocoon – to which Rebecca DiDomenico pays loving tribute in “Wingcloth” – or in fog, smoke, and water – with which Tiffany Besonen unites in “i am water,” manifesting a poem by LuAnn Muhm on sewing pattern paper. (Paper itself can be an instrument of unveiling through writing or drawing.) Consider the veiled nebula, eclipses of sun and moon, the shedding by animals of an outer bodily layer (feathers, skin, horn), or the ocean’s waves that might have inspired, for example, the veiled West African creation goddess, Yemaya. Ancient Greece gives us the primeval goddess Nyx (Night), drawing the veil of darkness across the Earth, while Selene (Moon) rises wearing a veil.
Siduri, in The Epic of Gilgamesh, guards the sacred vine from beneath her veil. The pagan Arab queen Zenobia – no shrouded, helpless ghost, as the West tends to perceive Eastern women – defied the Roman army from behind her veil.
Veils have existed from antiquity to the present among Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians (from Roman Catholics to Anabaptists), Muslims, and many others, for similar reasons. For instance, as with Islam, Judaism greatly values modesty. Even the body has a spiritual purpose. Jo-Ann Brody’s clay book, “Yad Chava,” memorializes her late mother’s near blindness – her old veiled eyes – and how her internal beauty embraced and nourished the family.
Societies everywhere shroud the dead, and in her larger-than-life “Ancestral Excavations,” Eve Whitaker evokes ancient themes of death and memory, the gaze directed into the privacy of the tomb. Veils are the ethers beyond consciousness, the hidden hundredth name of god, the final passage into death, even the biblical apocalypse, the lifting of god’s veil to signal “the end times.”
The irony of veiling practices criss-crossing cultures is pointedly described in Anita Kunz’ witty “Girls Will Be Girls,” picturing a Roman Catholic nun, a woman in Muslim niqab, and a half-naked woman hidden behind sunglasses, perched in a row, waiting for a subway.
In another exercise in “comparative veiling,” Brenda Oelbaum puzzles intentions – with a playful nod at the children’s television show, Sesame Street — to confront her own post-9/11 fears of Islam in “One of These Things is Not Like the Other: Elizabeth Smart.”
Elizabeth Bisbing’s meticulously collaged “Veil Cards,” illuminate the veil’s presence in sacred and secular art worldwide and leaves it to the viewer – mirrored in a pink, vulnerable child — to try them on, to become them — the Virgin Mary, St. Francis, a geisha, Salome, a domestic figure in a Vermeer painting.
Helen Zughaib portrays the paradoxes of veiling and Orientalism (and in the process parodies Orientalist art) in her “Secrets Under the ’Abaya,” by re-dressing familiar paintings from modern artists like Mondrian and Picasso. In “’Abaya Lichtenstein,” she crisply summarizes the all-pervading East vs. West dilemma, the misunderstandings and misinterpretations, in a thought balloon: “I am not who you think I am.”
Tania Kamal-Eldin’s very funny, hugely enlightening half-hour documentary, Hollywood Harems, investigates how movies have shaped our abiding fantasies about the character of women in the East by fusing Arab, Persian, Indian, and Chinese women into one exotic creature (mostly, in fact, Jewish, Italian, or Irish actresses).
Christine Breslin’s gentle interviews with Muslim-American teenagers in “Beyond the Veil” about why they cover – or don’t – brings us closer to realizing the ordinary humanity of Muslims, too often dismissed, despised, and labeled as the enemy.
Throughout history, the veil has signified rank, religion, and marital status, or indicated that the wearer belongs to a specific ethnic group. Headdresses often serve similar purposes, from displaying class to practical functions of protection from the elements. In Victoria May’s “Headgear,” the artist examines, among other things, sinister aspects of head coverings: the absolute authority indicated by the priest’s hood, the gagging of a bonneted daughter.
In contemplating Kerry Vander Meer’s nuanced “X,” we see how hair is a natural veil. We flaunt or shave or hide it; it is seduction, vanity, a spiritual symbol and a political tool.
Inanna, Sumerian goddess of heaven, is stripped of power, forced to remove her veils and raiment like flayed skin as she descends into the underworld to confront death. The video embedded in Kim Turos’ tabletop theatre, “Journey to the Netherworld,” gives us a contemporary version of this ancient myth of fertility and renewal, as we watch a pregnant
dancer embrace the roots and branches of beginnings. And Fatma Charfi’s soundless performance, “Another Space,” blossoms into realms of rebirth and ascent, step by step, the artist encased and buoyed by layers of white tulle.
Veiling is often related to prophecy. The Oracle of Delphi was masked and veiled behind vapors of underground gases. The Greek mathematician, Pythagoras, described two grades of initiates, those-who-listen and those-who-learn. Listeners located themselves behind a veil. The Islamic Ummayad rulers enjoyed music played behind a veil, for “listening stirred the heart to see the divine.” In such a way, a child is transported during Sunday mass by the cooing and flapping of pigeons in Mary Kite’s and Ana Baer-Carillo’s collaborative film poem, “The Allure of Vanish.”
Carved figures or paintings of Ishtar, chief goddess of the Babylonians and Assyrians, and her Phoenician counterpart, Astarte, as well as Isis, Egyptian goddess of fertility and motherhood, are often found veiled, their wide, all-seeing eyes framed in black. Traditions of veiled fertility goddesses may lead us to wedding veils, a custom still treasured by women in the West, and which Juliet Davis questions in her hilarious and biting newmedia piece, “Altar-ations.”
Why do people veil their heads when worshipping the gods? The answer is simple: to separate themselves from the profane and to live only in the sacred world, for seeing is itself a form of contact.
Visible and Invisible Spaces is neither a documentary exhibition nor a costume show. Indeed, there are relatively few textiles here, with the exception of Mary Tuma’s “Homes for the Disembodied,” Judith Selby Lang’s “Equivalents” and Ana María Hernando’s “Reina.”
Tuma’s majestic, sheltering “Homes for the Disembodied” speaks of the veiled and diasporic Palestinian community, of dignity in devastation. Voice is also given to the voiceless in Deb King’s new-media “dreamSweeper,” about the disappeared communities of Native American women.
In “Equivalents,” Lang exposes the fragility and invisibility that accompanies old age in a youth-adoring culture. Ageism — along with sexism and Orientalism – is leveled with one well-aimed blow in Sherry Wiggins’ “me and James Bond,” which juxtaposes unglamorous middle age against exotic belly dancers, and the gorgeous movie stars of the film From Russia with Love.
“Reina” is a collaboration between Hernando and the deeply sequestered Carmelite Cloistered Nuns of the Monastery of Santa Teresa in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The contemplative life of women religious is also considered – and honored – in Valari Jack’s “Quiet Seasons of Grace: A Year in the Life of the Abbey of St. Walburga.”
In “Confinement,” Shakuntala Kulkarni faces a much different solitude: frightening isolation, imprisonment, and the impounding of the soul during a war.
In some places, the veil is mandated. In others, it is outlawed. Tulu Bayar’s DVD, “Confluence,” explores current push-me-pull-you events in Turkey, where – to oversimplify an immensely complex issue — the society is torn between modernity and tradition, and where some women who wish to veil have taken to wearing wigs – not unlike Hasidic Jewish women.
The bodies of women have always been combat zones and today the veil is a spoil of cultural – and actual – war. When veiling is forced, then enforced, it is repression, but it can also be a symbol of resistance.
Sara Rahbar’s powerful “Oppression Series (2)” confronts the jingoism and flagwaving, in this case by Iran and the U.S., which inevitably plays out on women’s freedom. In contrast to the suffocations of patriotism and patriarchy, the artist offers a bright pomegranate, thought in some traditions to cleanse the heart of evil.
In “The Women,” Yassi Golshani shaped hundreds of chadored figures out of papier maché made from Iranian newspapers, a commentary on censorship of the press, as well as the subjugation of Iranian women. The little figures are also reminiscent of cocoons, perhaps suggesting hope for a breakthrough.
In “Super East-West Woman: Living On the Axis Fighting Evil Everywhere,” Aphrodite Désirée Navab transforms herself into a comic-book heroine , turning her blue chador into “a cape of agency” and — !KAPOW! – she K.O.s the purveyors of hatred.
In “At Home, Chilling,” Larissa Sansour pokes fun at irrational fears of the Other, while she negotiates pastoral Denmark wearing a keffiyeh, the commonplace headcovering of Palestinian men, representative to the West of terrorists and suicide bombers.
Although the U.S. is a made up of immigrants from across the globe, Americans are frequently xenophobic. Racism is an abiding national shame and sorrow. “Reinterpreting the Middle East,” curated by Arab-American artist May Hariri Aboutaam, is a portfolio of original prints by twenty-three artists from diverse backgrounds who were asked to consider issues of occupation, diaspora, displacement, oppression, and more. The portfolio acts somewhat as ballast for the exhibition. Both strive head-on to scrutinize the suppositions with which we judge unfamiliar experiences, behaviors, and beliefs.
“Dress Codes and Modes: Women’s Dress in Some Muslim Countries and Communities,” an interactive Powerpoint presentation created by Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Solidarity Network, serves much the same purpose and is above all an educational tool that looks at dress codes as among the crucial elements contributing to the construction of a so-called “Muslim” identity.
Vision is through the veil and inescapably so.
Visible & Invisible Spaces began its journey around the United States in 2008 (a calendar can be found on the Web site, www.theveilbook.com). The exhibition has received praise everywhere it’s been (viewer comments can be found on our Web site). I can hardly do justice in this space to these magnificent artists, so each provides her own statement articulating her thoughts, inspirations, and motivations.
The veil of illusion has been cut away.
And I shall not go out wandering any more.
–Sri Guru Grath Sahib
The arts – all of them – are sometimes about the veil, and sometimes they are themselves veiled, vessels for truth or channels leading to the Mysteries, to wisdom and enlightenment. To be veiled is, to some degree, to be unseen, the condition of both attraction and repulsion. It is the artist’s task to identify the obstacles and maneuver through visible and invisible spaces.
Jennifer Heath is an independent scholar, award-winning cultural journalist, critic, curator, and activist. She is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction. She has written extensively about art and social justice. Her many exhibitions include the much acclaimed touring show, The Art We Love to Hate: Black Velvet.
For more information on upcoming shows and venues: www.theveilbook.com
Popularity: 1%"> The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco will be opening up the E is for Everyone: Celebrating Sister Corita installment from February 4 – June 5, 2011. The exhibit marks the 25th anniversary of her life and influence as a West-Coast Pop artist and teacher.
Thursday, February 3, 6-8pm - Opening Night & Craft Bar
featuring a Corita-themed valentine project
Thursday, May 5, 6-8pm -Craft Bar: Corita Mash Up
a Corita silkscreen printing project.
Corita Kent was a teacher and artist who primarily used silkscreening and serigraphy to produce her prints. Kent’s artwork focused along the themes of love & peace, which were symbolic during the unrest of the 1960s and 70s.
|Excerpt from the Exhibit
The exhibit showcases “many dimensions of Corita’s artistic practice as an iconoclastic artist, teacher and activist who was known to challenge stereotypes. Corita Kent, also known as Sister Mary Corita, revolutionized graphic design and created an art education system in which the classroom and its multiple surroundings became potent tools for learning and making.
West Coast Pop-Art predating Punk and computer graphics, Corita’s work is regarded today as inherently contemporary, bridging the divide between public service and self-expression, social practice and studio practice, craft and design. Not only do many established contemporary artists express direct evidence of Corita’s influence, but a new generation of makers are embracing Corita as a radical innovator for a wide range of socially-engaged creative practices, which help to expand our traditional definitions of craft and folk art.”
To read the rest of the exhibition’s description click here.
Listen to Jean’s original call:
Here in India where I live and work, there are lots of women who might fit the description of eccentric, or living against the tide. Actually, it doesn’t take that much for a woman to earn that distinction in a culture where roles and norms are strictly defined.
My friend Shakundala is a painter of women. Most of the women she paints are prostitutes.
She has never had an art lesson yet her paintings are sold to benefit NGO’s working with prostitutes in India. About this theme, she says she doesn’t know why she paints them, just that she can’t not paint them. She says that suddenly, one day, the pictures just began coming out and that they had to go somewhere, so she began painting.
She is now quite elderly and deaf and lives in the old part of the city in a flat that leaks in the monsoon and is over one hundred years old. It’s so old that when you visit Shakundala’s house you climb up a narrow staircase that is so steep you have to use a rope to pull yourself up. The toilet is outside because at the time it was built the people who cleaned toilets were not allowed in the house. It’s one of those buildings that will someday, just give up and fall down.
She describes her painting vividly enough for radio and speaks articulately about the situations of the women she paints. She also talks about how things have changed in India from the time of the British until now.
Popularity: 1%"> Red, 2009, palm leaves and horse hair 39 x 55 inches
By Tess Kenner
Danish-born artist, Trine Ellitsgaard, hand-looms textiles. Her work is on exhibition with Latin American Masters at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California, October 9 through December 4. Her weaving is greatly influenced by Mexico, where she lived for over twenty years.
Latin American Masters writes that Mexico is reflected in the combination of materials she chooses to incorporate into her work: horse-hair, gold thread, plastic, paper, silk, sisal and seeds, the organic mixed with the inorganic, the luxurious with the pedestrian. Sometimes she appropriates forms seen in indigenous fabrics, a woolen skirt worn by the Chomula Indians of Chiapas, or an element suggested by ritual, such as the dried flowers set upon graves during the Day of the Dead….. Her weavings combine ordered geometric design, muted color, and a soothing balance of form and texture…. In a remarkable collaborative piece from the current exhibition, Ellitsgaard has taken a long palm braid, made by Mixtec weavers from Oaxaca, and woven an open, net-like structure, joined together with strands of red horse hair. The overall effect is of a contemporary work of art rooted in ancestral culture.
Trine Ellitsgaard has had solo exhibitions in the United states, Europe, and Mexico, including: the Danish Museum of Decorative Arts, Copenhagen (1977, 1982, 1983 and 2004), Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca (2000), and The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2003). This is her first exhibition with Latin American Masters.
Popularity: 1%"> Judith Belzer for years now. She has a new show opening on September 9th at the George Lawson Gallery in San Francisco. We’ll be there.
As we approach our second anniversary with exhibition 20, we are pleased to again be showing the work of Bay Area-based painter Judith Belzer, who launched our program with the inaugural show in October of 2008. We are exhibiting selections from two recent series of Belzer’s ongoing explorations into the underpinning structures and porous surfaces of the world, titled respectively, Order of Magnitude and Order of Things. The modest scale of these paintings belies the ambition and scope of Belzer’s reach, as she moves freely from aerial to crystalline and cellular perspectives in her bid for intimacy with the natural order. Reminiscent of Cezanne’s late watercolors, Belzer’s assured open brushwork and thin washes suggest she has found herself a home in the center of things, and an open hand to pull us into the organizing principle she has uncovered.
Emily shifted her style from dots to gestural brush strokes that echoed the lines painted on women’s breasts and shoulders for traditional ceremonial performances.
Emily produced her work at an astounding rate; it is estimated that she painted over 3,000 works over the course of her eight-year career, an average of one painting per day. Emily completed Big Yam Dreaming in just two days. Without preliminary sketching, Emily painted sitting cross-legged on the three-by-eight meter canvas, working her way from the center to it’s edges. Given Emily’s technique of painting by sitting on the floor, her works have no prescribed orientation, except in a few cases.
The demand for Emily’s paintings meant that she felt certain stresses as a member of her community. Emily’s painting provided income for her whole community; at her old age, Emily gave up chances of retirement in order to provide for her kin.