ELizabeth Wuerffel - director
Associate professor of art, valparaiso university
Besides the people, two elements drew me to work on The Four Hijabs: collaboration and critical inquiry. As an interdisciplinary artist, collaboration drives much of my work. Or perhaps it’s because I’m a collaborator at heart that I’m an interdisciplinary artist. For years, I’ve enjoyed watching how Jamil and Silk Road Rising create spaces—in person and online—that cultivate dialogue and conversation. As an educator, critical inquiry is the core practice essential to growing and learning that’s more than developing “practical skills for the workforce,” but deeply investigating why things are the way they are, and questioning those narratives and the forces that keep them circulating. Manal’s work brought critical inquiry to bear not only on the script but into our many conversations and the visual representations that followed. She also brought a wealth of knowledge and insight— and such patience along the way.
The Four Hijabs is the result of talented, creative, and insightful people who care about the big picture and know that the small stuff does matter, that individual words and visual representations can reinforce or rebuff dominant narratives and offer new ways of being. My thanks go out to all the shapers—Jamil and Manal, of course; Anna Hayden-Roy’s creative and intuitive hand and mind; our talented and energetic actors who brought with them good questions and a frankness to ask them; Peter Storms’ beautiful blend of technique and creative sound design and Effat Moussa and Fouad Teymour for their early reflections and ideas. A final thanks to Fatima Mernissi, who I first encountered through Scheherazade Goes West, who came before us and whose words and ideas will last far beyond.