Buttons for Eyes


Artist Statement


In Buttons for Eyes, my personal narrative is foregrounded - the title referring to my mother’s playful yet nuanced question, “Do you have eyes or buttons for eyes?”. It is a question laced with parental fear. Her concern was not only about my inability to see some trivial object right in front of me, but our collective inability to see well enough to navigate in the world. And with the benefit of hindsight those worries have political dimensions that may be read as implicit in the work. In Buttons for Eyes I explore broader cultural debates around migration and identity, particularly as they have been recast in the dramatically changed context of anti-immigrant rhetoric now amplified at the highest levels of government, and which has altered the context in which migrant voices like mine are heard.


Despite these weighty issues, there is playfulness embedded in the very title Buttons for Eyes, suggesting that perhaps seeing clearly calls for looking at the world in more unusual ways. Play occurs in this work in my use of both color and natural light. They are my materials to manipulate; split into sparks, smear into rainbows, and find shimmering back from the depths of powdered pigments. In this series my concern for the past that is lost to me is apparent, but so is my concern for the future and the losses that will come. And although this work mythologizes the past and present it also plays games with them. It winks, pokes and inverts - suggesting joyousness - mixed with the loss and regret that accompanies us all.


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