I See America and America Sees Me (Inspired by Langston Hughes)

I See America and America Sees Me
Two mannequin heads facing each other about 4 feet apart

I often think about identity and how as a Muslim who was born here in Virginia, I have so much patriotism as an American. Sometimes I wonder whether people’s attitudes towards me will change once they find out I am a Muslim, if it does not come up during initial conversations. By playing with headscarf designs, which today have become almost like advertisements for designer labels, I wanted to present two identical faces as an experiment. These mannequin heads are situated to my own height. The distance in between them allows the viewer to enter their gaze and look at their faces closer. Although the same, one is identified as nefarious when nothing has changed except our perceptions.

I am inspired by Langston Hughes' poem entitled, “I, Too” for which he writes, "I, Too, sing America…" despite the opinions of others. The poem came to mind when developing the concept for the piece, which led to the selection of materials such as the mannequins, fabrics, and the decision to place the shelf at my height and eye level.