“Halal”

Ceramics and Light 2019

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Racism underlies many of the words in our politics today and permeates a broader history of exclusion in the United States that many Americans are oblivious of or condone. Racism evidenced in the language of Trump’s tweets and some responses to them, raises the question of who and what determines, the right for one to stay or leave. 

 

As part of a developing origin and place series, I used soil from the Chautauqua area, land of the Seneca Nation, to create a plate.  I dug the clay with my hands, prepared and fired it to serve a meal.  There is nothing more genuine, more indigenous than this process and this creation. But now I feel compelled to ask:  Who am I to touch this earth?  Who am I to shape it in my own way, to my own will? Is this Halal* plate permitted?   Do I have a recognized right to stand on the ground from which this came? American land?  Seneca land?   Who gets to decide place and belonging?  Why am I forced to even ask these questions now?  This work is a response to the comments made to four female members of the United States Congress to “…go back…” to the countries they came from, a sentiment that many native born Americans of color or immigrants have endured, do endure.

 

*Although the word “halal” is usually only equated with food in the West, the actual translation is “lawful” or “permissible” as defined by Shari’ah law and carries a deeper cultural and ideological meaning.