Art History 184: Post Modern Art
Veiled Women and Art
“Throughout history, the veil has signified rank, religion, and marital status, or indicated that the wearer belongs to a specific ethnic group.” Western perceptions of veiled Muslim women have been drastically skewed ever since the events that took place September 11th, 2001 on American soil. War and the threats of terrorism in the media have consumed the image of veiled women and depicted them as oppressed, violent, or radically religious. These ideas are unfair because the woman behind each hijab is an individual with her own character, personality, and dreams. Whether or not that person is proud of the veil depends on the individual. Images of veiled women in art function as an emotional outlet or learning experience for the artist. For the artist who lives behind the veil, they are communicating to the viewer and the rest of the world how they feel about living under the hijab as well as their feelings toward the politics of their religion. The artist who has no personal experience with the veil embarks on a learning exploration through a different culture and within themselves. It is the combination of the two that we can only begin to understand what the hijab means to the Muslim woman.
Behind the Veil
Some female artists who wear the veil either wish to celebrate their way of life or they wish to express angst and frustration with the hijab. In fact, Muslim women who embrace the veil do so because it gives them a sense of unity, privacy, protection against men who might objectify them sexually, or simply honor for tradition and their religion. Pamela K. Taylor explains in her essay, “I Just Want to be Me,” her own reasons for wearing hijab. “I started wearing hijab (the Muslim head scarf) some twenty years ago, soon after my conversion to Islam, as a clear statement that I did not want to be judged by my body, my beauty, or the lack...