I'm pleased to invite you to visit my first installation, Exit Strategies, at the Women's Center for Creative Work. The opening reception is next Friday, June 8 from 7-10pm.
This work is part of my summer residency at the WCCW during which I'll be hosting several events. Dates and descriptions are listed here.
June 8-August 3, 2018
Friday, June 8, 7-10 pm
During a summer residency at the Women's Center for Creative Work, Yasmine Diaz explores personal, family and cultural histories as the source material for an installation and series of public programs during our Control quarter.
Exit Strategies navigates overlapping tensions around religion, gender, and third-culture identity, through the lens of a U.S. born Yemeni-American girl. Cultural differences and their points of friction are a significant focus of Diaz’s practice. Using her own life as a starting point, Diaz creates intimate mixed-media works to explore experiences with her sisters as third culture kids, a term used to describe those raised in a culture other than their parents.
“We are known to be cultural hybrids and chameleons. While many of us have an increased awareness of the world around us, we are often faced with unique challenges such as confused loyalties with regards to personal values, traditions, and politics.”
For the installation, Diaz considers adolescence, a time when many young people begin to wrestle with the concepts of control and agency in the transition to adulthood. She recreates elements of the basement bedroom she had as a teen in Chicago — a place of refuge and privacy where she and sisters felt carefree, danced and played music, and gossiped about high school crushes. This space also represents a period when she struggled with the expectations of her religiously and socially conservative Yemeni-Muslim family, as well as the everyday melodramas of a typical teenager. As she was studying for SATs and writing college application essays, an arranged marriage loomed in the background, overshadowing her future plans. It became increasingly clear that speaking up about her disconnection with Islam and desire for independence was not an option. It was in the basement that she found herself strategizing for solutions — for ways to sneak out of the house and eventually, as part of a plan to leave her family, changing her name and identity for her own protection.
By sharing her own story, Diaz highlights the necessity for dialogue amongst women of marginalized communities who have been discouraged from speaking out against patriarchal oppression. They are accused of inciting racist backlash if they seek to challenge the misogyny in their own communities, which often results in their stories being silenced. With this work, Diaz creates a space for reflection, sharing, and discussion around issues that have become increasingly taboo to discuss in the age of xenophobia.
Women's Center for Creative Work
2425 Glover Place
Los Angeles, CA 90031
This piece is featured in the current issue of My.Kali, a conceptual webzine for/from the Middle East and North Africa that addresses social issues and strives to defy mainstream gender binaries in the Arab world.
I created this collage for an article by A.W. Rahman that examines a poem by Nizar Qabbani, one of the most revered contemporary poets in the region. View the article here.
Many thanks to all who came to Golden Thread Productions's Annual International Women's Day event. I was extremely humbled to be a part of such a wonderful program alongside Farnoosh Moshiri, Naima Grace Shalhoub, Sara Maamouri, and Atosa Melody. Many thanks to Torange Yeghiazarianand Evren Odcikin for putting together such an inspiring event.
I'm excited to share that I'll be speaking about my work at this event which features four other amazing and talented women.
Opening Reception | Office Hours
Friends: I'll have work in this group show at The Main Museum.
Wednesday, November 29
114 W. 4th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
Join us for the opening of Office Hours + In Focus: Rachel DuVall. Enjoy a hosted bar featuring Fort Point Beer Company and DJ sets by Vinyl Frontier Club, a LA-based DJ collective spinning oldies, cumbia, funk, disco, and more.
Holiday Wishlist Donations for Downtown Women’s Center at Beta Main
From now through the end of the year, Beta Main will be accepting donations for the Downtown Women’s Center holiday wishlist. Please bring donations with you to any of our upcoming programs, including the one listed above. For information about most needed items please visit: downtownwomenscenter.org/our-wishlist
Downtown Women’s Center
Founded in 1978, the Downtown Women’s Center is the only organization in Los Angeles exclusively dedicated to addressing the needs of women overcoming poverty and homelessness in Skid Row.
One Woman Shows is a play on words against the singularity of the solo exhibition to a model of multiplicity as a group of women witness and perform acts of self-naming. The project, initiated by Cindy Rehm is inspired by Suzanne Lacy’s 1975 collaborative performance, One Woman Shows. The network of performers was built through a chainmail structure to produce an interconnected community of participants who will engage in an experience that is both intimate and communal.
Project Participants: Ashwini Ambre, Kate Alexandrite, Karen Atkinson, Alexis Alicette Bolter, Eugenia Barbuc,Karolina Beveridge, Carolita Blythe, Aubry Bratcher, Courtney Byrd, Rook Campbell, Precious Child, Toro Castaño, Courtney Cox, Yami Curiel, Dorit Cypis, Johanna Cypis, Crystal Diaz, Yasmine Diaz, Jessica Dillon, Melody Ehsani, Coco Fausone-Wilson, Megan Flanders, Anikai Gesh, Christine Dianne Guiyangco, Frances Hale, Hazel Handan, Siobhan Hebron, GabrielaHernandez, Andrea Hidalgo, Juanesta Holmes, Patricia Huerta, Denise Johnson, Elizabeth Leister, Elizabeth Medina, Gabby Melendez, Mabel Moore, Yanina Orellana, Mary Anna Pomonis, Cindy Rehm, Sandee Rodriguez, Marina Santana, Carol Seleme, Delbar Shabhbaz, Julie Shafer, Rose Simons, Weng-San Sit, Amelia Steely, Kelly Wall, Dajin Yoon, Maggie Zheng
Follow One Woman Shows @onewomanshows
Space is limited, to attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the date for my upcoming show at Mission Workshop in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Details below.
Many thanks to all who came to the opening party on Saturday night. I forgot to get a photo of the reception facing the actual install, so here's a quick mash-up /LAyer Cake of the show. For those of you who couldn't make it, it will be up at the Los Angeles County Store until November 15.
Nina. 24. I grew up in Val Verde; a small town with a large Mexican community, right on the edge of Santa Clarita Valley.
I've had a lot of moments where I have felt judgement on my hair, which mostly happened when I was a kid or a teenager. Most of the comments, which I only recognized as harmful to my self image in retrospect, were from other black people, or African Americans. I heard ridicule from older women, in particular, to tame my hair, to gel back my frizzy curls, or to fix my nappy hair. I remember once a white boy in my class telling me that he liked my bun of curls, but that I need to put gel to smooth out my edges and waves, even though I hated gel. For most of my school years, I have been surrounded by white people or other minorities, who mainly approached my hair with fascination and curiosity. The most ridicule I faced about my natural hair was from myself, though. I wanted to blend in, and I tortured myself to look more like the White and Mexican girls in my class, with straight flowing hair. The other few Black girls in my class had straight hair, too, so I just always felt so different. My own self image was the biggest burden on my own confidence, which took a long time to defeat.
Now, I get complemented on my hair daily. White, Mexican, Asian, Black, men and women tell me they love my hair. But I feel the most when young black girls say they like my hair. I want to be the option for them that I didn't have when I was a little girl.
I didn't always wear my hair naturally. As a kid, when it was natural, I would tie it back. My mother and father would spend time putting individual braids in when they had spare time, as well. And I sometimes got my hair braided with extensions at other women's houses that my mother or father paid for. My mother, who was Colombian and raised in New York, loved to get her thin, straight hair permed and curled. She loved my curls, and I could never understand why.
I had no idea I could chemically straighten my hair until I was 11 or 12. I don't remember how I found out, but when I did, I begged my mother to take me. She refused for a long time, until finally she gave in and I got my hair relaxed during my freshman year in high school. But I was a swimmer, so maintaining that kind of hairstyle became difficult. My hair eventually became damaged and fried from straighteners. It wasn't until I was 19 that I realized I was not completely loving myself, which was something that I had pushed for in other parts of my life. Suppressing my natural hair had become so normal to me that I had forgotten what I looked like, and who I really was. My hair was the last thing I had to overcome to free myself from caring what others thought of me. I know that I was afraid to wear my hair out naturally, particularly in a fro, because I had never seen any other women in my life do it. I don't think I saw that as an option, or at least no one told me that it was. I just somehow learned that I was supposed to pull it back, and be in pain, and "do something" with it. I needed a role model in my life to show me that you wouldn't explode if you went outside the house with your hair out. My mom tried; She and my father surrounded me with books that celebrated black culture, but because she did not look like me, it was impossible for me to understand.
I struggle often with the weight of importance that we put on these tiny strands that grow out of our head--the importance of beauty that we place on ourselves every day to be acceptable for either ourselves or society. It all feels, at least for me, that it starts with hair and that the definition of ones self lies with what we do with our hair. And that feels so heavy sometimes.
No matter how much I love my hair, and no matter how much I love the journey I have taken with it, and freedom I have gained from finally embracing it, at the end of the day the most important thing to me is that I can cut it all off, and still feel like I am me. My heart and my mind are the same. I am more than my hair.
Also, a lot of black women tell me that they wish they could go natural, but their curls are not like mine, so there is no way they would look good. But the funny thing is, is that I used to say that to other women with larger curls when my hair was relaxed.
Let your hair grow, and fall in love with your own curls. They will not be like anyone else's. And isn't that absolutely amazing?