Collaged digital photographs of floor tiles from mosque in Abu Dhabi.

The Sketchbook Project

This sketchbook was created for an exhibition that traveled throughout the United States in 2010; it contains entries about my daily life during several months in 2009, when I was traveling extensively in Abu Dhabi for work. Watercolor, collaged scraps of paper, sketches, and handwritten entries discuss my everyday life there.

Topics I grappled with include going into the closet there to avoid detection and prosecution as a gay person, a famous American television actress who came out of the closet at the same time, New York State’s negative vote on gay marriage, trying to unravel the mystery of how and why the hotel staff disposed of my art materials and work for this very sketchbook, and two bombings in Afghanistan involving my family.

By linking personal anecdotes with news on the national and international stage, the sketchbook ties my own stories to larger concerns.

Creating this sketchbook while residing in another country allowed me to observe my home culture through another culture‚Äôs lens. Encountering my own fears and concerns in others validated them. 

The sketchbook makes the case that the personal is not only important, but universal. The personal is also political.