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Philosophy

This is a light cutting's shadow collaged onto a rubbing made from another light cutting.  The shadow was photographed by Frank Verbeek.  The light cutting, rubbing and collage by Chandra Brooks.
This is a light cutting’s shadow collaged onto a rubbing made from another light cutting. The shadow was photographed by Frank Verbeek. The light cutting, rubbing and collage by Chandra Brooks.

We create ourselves as individuals in isolation.

We come together as groups to see what that means.

Like many things written in journals over the years, this statement, from my “Red Diary” was written on the plane that would take my children and myself away from our homeland for the rest of our lives.  I’d always been an outsider; even amongst my own peoples.  I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, but didn’t get on well there because I found the “fire and brimstone” ideology painful and exclusive.   I believed that if God is LOVE: condemnation of other faiths, beliefs, lack of belief or whatever practices could never lead to violence, hate or scorn in the name of higher powers.  I was treated cruelly for these beliefs but I held onto them as they grew and developed into the beliefs I hold today.   Too often in history and the “now”, when there is too much focus on our differences, we miss opportunities to see how beautifully these differences drape our similarities.

The central themes found in my work are: the visualization of identity, translation and cultural assimilation.  I’m a classicist in that I call myself an artist based on the fact that I’ve acquired and mastered techniques relevant to my craft and these are output in aesthetics I identify with.  If I’d been a practicing artist in Medieval France, I might have been illiterate, but I’d happily have been working as a calligrapher, illuminator, builder (yes, there were women in the trade) or stained glass artist.  I say this because although not all monastic scribes worked meditatively, that is still how I chose to work today.  For me, it’s very important to work from certain mental vantage points.  The complicated mathematics behind my ornaments, calligraphy and work with light cutting require intense concentration so I work from a meditative state.  I’ve always been fascinated with DaVinci and “sacred geometry.  Because I’m mesmerized by the applications of Fibonacci’s “golden rectangle” it is always evident in my work.  Beyond my philosophical ideas related to creating art that illuminates visual identity for the sake of creating cross-cultural dialogues, the creative process is an outlet which I hope appeals to people deeply both visually and emotionally.  At an exhibition of my Arabic Book of Shadows, an Israeli woman in her twenties spoke to me about the process of adapting to being repatriated to Germany as the first member of her family to step foot in Europe since their exodus during the Holocaust.  She told me that seeing my Arabic Book made her cry because my presentation of Islamic motifs within my fairytale was so foreign to her that she saw the beauty of them for the first time.  She’s seen my wall sized images from outside and was drawn to them.  I don’t know if making people see things will do anything to make the world a gentler place, but these are the kinds of responses that matter so I continue creating work that illicit warm responses to that end.