Dunya presents a new series of hand-embroidered canvases. The works feature compositions of undulating fantastical landscapes in jeweled colors made from symbols adapted from traditional Palestinian embroidery. The new body of work presents the dialogue between the artist’s own embroidery and its connection to the place and history of Palestine. The histories of generations of Palestinians have been imbued into the handcraft of embroidery often featured upon traditional women’s dresses— the symbols worked upon the garb trace the familial records of transience and movement. The traditional embroidery is a skill that the artist has dedicated his time to learning in an attempt to connect with his heritage as a Palestinian-American. As a descendant of the Palestinian diaspora, the landscapes Nassar works upon the canvases are meditations on alienation and displacement.
The landscapes are at once the product of an inherited nostalgia, a desire to capture Nassar’s ancestors’ stories of an idyllic Palestine, and a projection of a utopian future where the conflicts are a distant memory. Each embroidery is an elegy for a Palestine, delicate and wondrous in its kaleidoscopic topography.
For the exhibition, Nassar has published a limited edition zine entitled “Dunya” featuring his essay on the works of the show.
To put it simply, Dunya is the whole world. In a religious context, it is This World, as opposed to The Next, but it’s more than that. Dunya is the world you swear by when you promise true love. Dunya is the world that is ruined when your heart is broken. Dunya is the earth, the dirt, the trees, the rivers, the oceans, the sun, the sky, the birds, the cats, the dogs, and the people.
-Excerpted from Jordan Nassar’s zine, “Dunya,” 2017