Written by Janet Kozak
In January 2015, Artist Ameena Khan put a call out to some Muslim women. She asked for art contributions to her newest series of paintings entitled “Just a Peek, Please?” Those who replied to her inquiry were asked to give a personal statement they wanted to share with a stranger.
Khan did not give any guidance other than asking them to be honest. What the women sent back were stories, memories, poems, and confessions.
Khan also asked those who wore hijab to donate a scarf that she could use in the work. It was bold choice that makes the art all the more powerful. Knowing that the included scarves belonged to (and were worn by) real women, helps us connect more to both the art and story. The series of 26 mixed media paintings on 12″x12″ canvases was started and completed in 2015 – though Khan began brainstorming the concept about two years prior.
One of the 26 paintings and poems in the series, Stages of Live, depicts the poignant narrative life story of a woman who is proud to both wear hijab in life and be buried in it as well.
“When I donned the hijab in 1980, covering was like a carefully placed bandage over a deep wound. Since then I have covered at work, at school, while nursing my babies, through chemotherapy and radiation, and past hostile stares. In the end, when I return to Allah (SWT) my sisters in Islam will cover me in finality and with love. I live, and die, under this cover of honor.”