These are collections of photographs of a committed foreigner-pilgrim. My first memory sets me on a plane, just shy of being two years old, flying over the Atlantic Ocean from one home in Germany to another in the southern US. I have felt a nomad ever since, sometimes rootless, sometimes putting down roots in various parts of the globe, from New Delhi to Paris to New York to San Francisco. As I age, this nomadic facet intensifies, and I use the prism of pilgrimage, which I view as journey as articulation of a faith, to direct my path.
In 2018, my pilgrimage's motif is the arabesque. The arabesque in art is a scrollwork design often adorned with floral elements. My fascination began at the age of eighteen when, in 1991, I took a job as an oriental rug designer. The drawing of my first scrolling lines ignited a passion for textiles, patterns, and cultures vastly different from my own. This decorative element has long functioned as a bridge between the West and the Orient, the scrollwork appearing in every aesthetic permutation during every age, from the ornately curled arabesques of French Rococo parlor rooms to the geometric arabesques studding mosques in the Middle East. The arabesques is a line of connection between divergent experiences, mindsets, and histories. To follow the arabesque from the Middle East across North Africa and into Europe is to have faith in a line of connection during a troubling historical moment of shifting US policies, terrorism, fear, and loathing. Along this delicate, curling, indirect line, I humbly move with my camera during the opening quarter of 2018.
Rather than the polished affairs of the more formal website (www.catherinemicheleadams.com), these albums strive to give a glimpse into the act of my peregrinations. To step alone into a foreign culture requires curiosity and the acceptance of confusion when facing the radical unknown. To mark out of winding scrollwork line of my own, I seek to identify what sits at the limits of my understanding and to capture these moments of connection.