“You could do a reading at Scripps and create an installation,” Myriam Chancy offered when I showed her images from my On Belonging site-specific installation at Houston’s Menil Collection (February 2018).
Myriam, who serves as the Interim Director for the Humanities Institute at Scripps College and who I met through introductions via Ayesha Kamran and Meher McArthur, invited me to campus to view trees that I could use. I was immediately captivated by the 100-year old carob tree that pre-dates the college. The tree’s trunk measures wider than 13 feet and its branches are wide and long.
Once my agreement was formalized, I sent measurements to my mother, who was in Karachi, and she worked with my cousin Aisha Gazdar to ship a box of ajrak fabric to me. Scripps community members filled out community response cards (see two below).
The tree is considered a historic marker on the Scripps campus, so I was fortunate to get helped by two groundsmen, Jorge and Copeland. The first day, we dedicated six hours to install the fabric and drop the ropes. As we worked, Copeland, who is from Jamaica, shared splices of his life on the island and how he returned to his first home often. He understood the question of “belonging.”
Some of the ajrak had to be cut to create ropes, and Jorge turned out to be an expert on cutting fabric. “I used to help my grandma and my mother cut in my hometown in Colima, Mexico,” Jorge said.
On the second day of the installation, students joined me and we tied fishing lines to hang the cards. The installation will be up for viewing till September 29, 2019.