I am an artist and an anthropologist.
In my new book
Shifting Worlds, Shaping Fieldwork, A Memoir of Anthropology and Art
I explain how I weave art and ethnography together, in my studio and with others in theaters, galleries and public plazas.
On a perfect day I write in the morning, paint in the afternoon and do fieldwork in dance studios, rehearsal rooms or around the dinner table. In the studio theories take form with the movement of a brush across a canvas. Those same gestures stream words on a page. Texts, or colors or ideas can flow gently or have sharp edges. I think of works of art or texts as bearing witness to particular aspects or moments in these flows of discovery. Movement and light are central to my lyrical aesthetic.
I became an abstract expressionist while studying at Berkeley. I also developed an interest in the concept of the "avant-garde" and colonial histories that led me to Paris and on to Morocco. I studied how images and politics are intertwined, first in the city on television and in the streets of Casablanca, then in beauty salons there, and in Paris and Cairo. My own life of migration led me to collect the stories of people who had lived in multiple countries.
Paintings, installations and performances are some of the outcomes of these “waves” of inquiry, which have also led to books, films and a play. I have also developed numerous collaborative projects, notably The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop, a global collective that develops on-site programs on migration internationally.
My art has been exhibited and performed in the USA, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Romania, Spain, the UK and Tunisia. I have authored and edited six books and many articles, art catalogues, and essays.