Canadian Muslim visual artist Noor Al-Mosawi has created a captivating series of self-portraits based on Mark Gonzales’ new book In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty. A freelance wedding photographer, Al-Mosawi wanted to return to her passion for visual narrative. She started with a project entitled Beyond A Label, a series of portraits with the goal of featuring strong hijabi Muslim women.
Working on that series sparked her to look inward. As she writes,
I recently arrived at the realization that I was neglecting one important story: my own. Largely rooted in a lack of self-worth and self-care, I realized I had spent so much time focusing on other narratives without genuinely exploring my own. Whether in regards to my life as a visibly Muslim woman, my place in society as a daughter of Iraqi immigrants to Canada, or the emotionally abusive relationship that I recently walked away from, I had a lot of emotional unpacking and storytelling to explore.
Her self-portrait series pairs her images with quotes from Gonzales’ book. The project has been therapeutic, allowing her to heal and and grow:
[P]airing each [self-portrait] with a quote from Wage Beauty has helped me to not only better explore the emotions that I have been processing, but has also allowed me to connect to a larger narrative of overcoming struggle, gaining and maintaining self-worth and striving to create a reality that works to build and elevate the human spirit.
June Self-Portrait no.4. June, 2015. “What better way is there to shift a paradigm than by speaking in ways that encourage dreams, laughter and imagination. For those acts of creativity are not luxury, short sighted or simplistic, they are essential.” In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty. Page 51 @wagebeauty #portrait #selfportrait #wagebeauty #art #artist #muslimah #muslimwoman #hijab #hijabi #creativity #photography #digitalart
Wage Beauty is a social philosophy that began as phrase coined by author Mark Gonzales. It’s no surprise that the book inspired and reinforced Al-Mosawi’s artistic journey towards self-healing. The book is a series of short stories with the central message that we have to heal ourselves before we can try to improve the world.
View Noor Al-Mosawi’s self-portrait series here.
Image: thenoorphotography — July Self-Portrait no.4. July, 2015.