Islamic Patterns as an Allegory for an F-1 Student’s Experience in the Context of Global Capitalism: The Aesthetics of Cognitive Mapping as an Approach to Arts-Based Research
2020 — Building on Fredric Jameson's critical theory, this dissertation examines how the aesthetics of cognitive mapping were used to uncover overlooked political, economic, social and cultural dimensions behind my artistic engagement with Islamic patterns. Employing a critically informed variant of arts-based research, ABR, I explored the complexity of the interconnected economic, social, political and aesthetic realities informing my positionality as a Muslim Saudi female artist/research completing her dissertation in a Western country. Particularly, my work revealed how certain global forces, including capitalist relations between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as well as global postmodern cultural influences, shape the processes of appropriation and re-signification of patterning appropriated from Islamic aesthetics. This research culminated in a body of artwork for a solo exhibition at the Paul Voertman Gallery at the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. I conclude the study with recommendations for a regional ABR to be developed by educators for the MENA region — the Middle East and North Africa. The study also suggests that this model of cognitive mapping as a critical art-making methodology might be a useful pedagogical tool for museums and art education curriculum to implement in Saudi Arabia.