You were part of the 2021 Kolyang Artist Lab, a lab for culturally diverse artists in WA. How did the lab support you in developing your ideas?
I credit the Kolyang Artist Lab as a turning point in my life. This residency granted me a culturally safe space to explore my creativity, validated me as an artist and introduced me to a community in the other participants who I now lean on for support in art and in life.
This Lab also introduced me to my mentor for this project, Clare Watson, whose support has been invaluable from the original group sessions we undertook during the residency to date. Clare has been incredibly generous and openhearted in supporting emerging artists like myself; having her to touch base with about my work has been integral in pushing me forward. The Lab also reinforced that there is a need for the stories I want to tell.
My work draws heavily on my lived experience as someone existing at the intersection of multiple cultural identities and I don’t know that I would have felt as confident as I do now to invite an audience in to see something I have always held so close to my heart. The support, warmth and strength I felt surrounded by during the Lab from both the mentors and my cohort gave me the courage to keep moving forward in pursuing the projects I want to create.
What would you like audiences to understand about the themes and messages presented in The Strangers?
I would like audiences to understand that The Strangers is just another voice adding to the growing canon of culturally diverse work, informed in massive part by my very specific lived experience. That CaLD communities are not a monolith and, particularly when considering the Muslim community, there is no way of encapsulating the entirety of the Muslim experience in one work. Some concepts I explore in The Strangers such as families that have migrated as refugees instead of for economic opportunity, sibling dynamics and diaspora resonate deeply with me in my context but understand that many Muslims who see this work may have had wildly different encounters with all of these themes.
I would also love for audiences to pick up on the nuance and complexity that I am examining in this work, to grasp how a life can be complicated by the cards you have been dealt all while navigating multiple identities, often existing neither here nor there.