Ghada Amer’s practice acknowledges that men have written the history of art in theory and practice. In 1997, she created her first garden, taking her work out of the interior spaces associated with femininity and into the outdoors. Like her paintings, which integrate sewing and embroidery, her gardens combine monolithic sculptures with sowing and nurturing. For Desert X, Amer continues her Women’s Qualities series, asking men and women in the Coachella Valley to share words that describe the qualities with which they identify and to which they have been ascribed. It is an act of looking both inward and outward, yielding a form of self-portraiture. The result is a grouping of words arranged on the circular Great Lawn at Sunnylands. The installation forms a meeting place where artist and community, aesthetics and ideology, nature and culture come together for reflection and contemplation.
New York-based Ghada Amer (Cairo, Egypt, 1963) has a wide-ranging practice that spans painting, cast sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, and garden and mixed-media installations. Recognizing that women are taught to model behaviors and traits shaped by others, and that art history — the history of painting, in particular — is largely shaped by expressions of masculinity, Amer subverts these frameworks through aesthetics and content. Her practice explores the complicated nature of identity as it is developed through cultural and religious norms as well as personal longings and understandings of the self.
Sunnylands Center & Gardens
Rancho Mirage, California, USA
Desert X 2021
The artist and Desert X would like to thank the following for their generous support in making this project possible: Roswitha Kima Smale, Kai Loebach and Sunnylands Center & Gardens.