I have been sculpting and exhibiting my work throughout the United States and the Middle East, for over 5 years. I grew up in Egypt and lived half of my adult life in other North African and Middle Eastern countries. The desert drew me to Southern California in 1987, and I felt I had come home when I first visited Joshua Tree that year. After several moves and a period as a wilderness instructor in Joshua Tree National Monument, I became a permanent resident of Joshua Tree in 2004, where I currently live in a cove of boulders with an unhampered view, on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park.
I first studied sculpture at Columbia University with Ettore Salvatore, and later with New York sculptor Don Mavros. In 1965, while living in Baghdad, Iraq, I met the renowned Iraqi sculptor, Mohammed Ghani, and apprenticed with him in order to learn wood carving. All three of these teachers have had a profound influence on my approach to my art.
My artistic expression is rooted in my love of nature, especially the desert environment. Natural spaces and land forms have always inspired and informed my work, but the desert wilderness is where I feel most deeply connected. I feel a deep relationship with the Earth, and my sculpture reflects the beauty of the shapes I love in Nature. I fell in love with wood the first time I had to opportunity to work with it. It is a material that speaks to me of the living Earth, something to be cared for, respected and loved.
My creative process reflects, in part, a struggle to express the dichotomy of creation in both natural and human domains - to reconcile inner and outer worlds. Each sculpture is carved to look like something you might find on a walk in the wilderness – an object worn by wind and water, embodying the paradox of an intensely worked and highly finished form that has the appearance of being shaped by Nature.
An intimate relationship with the natural world has made me very attuned to the changes happening to the ecosystem of our planet. I am experiencing a profound grief about the consequences of human interference with the living systems of Earth, and it has become imperative for me to communicate this in my work. So while my sculpture has always been connected to my love of land and living things, in recent years it has become focused on bringing attention to the need to wake up to the unsustainability of how we are living on our planet. Part of this effort was the creation, in 2014, of an installation “Gaia’s Grief Transforming”, for the Highway 62 Open Studio Tours that fall.
Confronted by the ever more devastating effects of Climate Change, and the knowledge that it is too late to reverse the impact on our planet, I started working on a second large installation in 2017. "The Heart Locker" is part of my participation in the 2019 Highway 62 Open Studio Tours.