Hale Ekinci

Major: Interdisciplinary Arts and Media MFA, 2011


Artist Statement

Collaging together fiber techniques, found textiles, and images from family archives, my work explores phases of acculturation, immigrant identity, and ideas about gendered labor. My decorative fringes are influenced by the Middle Eastern tradition of oya (lace edging on a headdress) and its use of symbolic patterns that serve as a secret language between women to express personal sentiments that must otherwise remain private. Adopting these methods of embellishment and encoding, I create adorned, intercultural portraits framed with oya on bedsheets. Using a solvent, I transfer old photos from my Turkish heritage, my Hoosier husband, and found sources onto household textiles. The people get repeated or turned into patterns themselves, to intertwine the “individual” into newly configured “collectives” or to perform multiple personalities. I then layer embroidery and painting over them to further muddle the identities. The domestic surfaces such as the used, patterned bedsheets hold personal and bodily history invoking feelings of home and intimacy. By utilizing found materials and fiber crafts, I also question the value and worth assigned to materials and women’s work. The draped fabrics are framed with colorful crochet, where I crudely mimic traditional oya styles or make up new motifs like the “green card” edging reflecting my contemporary reality within the coding. Similarly, my use of Islamic tradition of ornamentation juxtaposed with portraiture is a subversive strategy. Seeming as merely a tool of beautification, ornamentation can actually trigger tension by teasing us in our vision’s periphery while our attention is on something else. It can proliferate and thus overwhelm the figure it initially sets out to embellish. This echoes the different strategies of acculturation: integration, separation from, assimilation to, or social marginalization. Mimicking this ploy, the ornament and the figure perpetually displace each other as the definers of identity and what is actually in the periphery.