Tough love (sorry I must disappoint you)

Letter to “X minutes of lover-making” viewers in Art-made spaces:

Dearest reader,

I’m Nadia. I’m a (slave-descended) black and (originally-Palestinian) Jordanian woman who was born and raised in the United States, though I don’t identify with American or any other nationality to be honest. I worked in Human Resources for six (6) years on three (3) continents before realizing I’m an artist. My work then and now isn’t all that different, but I felt Art is the best space to help people how I want.   So here I am, making the art.

But Art is getting in the way of the art.

Art requires objects—tangible, viewable, legible. Art requires the art that can be confined within walls. Art requires the art that is made for viewers in Art-made spaces.

Within this Art-made space,

please forgive me for not sharing the art made for you.

It’s true these unassuming paper objects do not lay out their contents for the benefit of your experience, but they do hold within them and exist as an effort by two others to find understanding, to share and mold meaning, to mutually transform. Similar to transitional objects, the art is in the act of relation—conversation—while engaging with this folded paper. Through these objects, two people give to each other to find each other. They give to each other to find themselves. They love. And each becomes a lover.

I’m told paper is flimsy, but I’m aware that it holds love. 

It can be folded and unfolded, opened to better understand what it’s made of, rebuilt while acknowledging what made it what it is, but able to bend and change while reforming if so desired. It may tear slightly at the seams, it may be sensitive to slips of the hand, but it doesn’t crumble under the weight of itself. Even when crushed, it can be reformed and revisited. No matter how much is given and exchanged through it, it remains able to hold the journey, the care, the love. 

Just as the manner of awareness we bring to a sheet of paper determines its strength and value,

the awareness we bring to our lives determines our experience of it.

That is the magic of awareness.

We can make the exact same choices even more worthwhile by nurturing our awareness, by adopting an attitude of love and care. Even the (seemingly) smallest of choices is an opportunity to love. And we’re conditioned not to do it—to not even realize we aren’t doing it.

I know I run the risk of losing you at this point, but I still continue because I truly believe what I’m about to say:

True radical and disruptive change in the world is difficult because we don’t love well.

“Love is a positive act, not a passive affect; it is giving, not receiving—a ‘standing in,’ not a ‘falling for.’ Giving is an expression of strength and abundance… Giving makes the other person a giver also, and they both share in the joy of what they have brought to life… To love means to be actively concerned for the life and the growth of another.”1

Only when we live the attitude of love, first toward ourselves and those around us, can we be aware of the power we take away from ourselves, can we challenge our own complacency and complicity, and can we open up to possibilities we could never have fathomed about how each of our lives and the world could be.

So with my work, I make love.

That’s why these objects aren’t for you. I can’t share details of our private conversations; I can’t breach the trust I have with the people I’ve loved.

It’s my final act of love

toward them, and it’s my invitation for you to extend a little love to me—and consequently to yourself.

Thank you your generosity. I feel the love,


1. Borrowed from a number of scholars quoted within Irvin Yalom’s Existential Psychotherapy