A passion for art and surfing along with a dose of political awareness influenced artist Kate Sikorski's series of portraits called "Burkini Surf" themed on Muslim American women surfing in burkinis, head-to-toe swimsuits that some Muslim women choose to wear for the purpose of modesty.
The 28-year-old Tustin native said there were some reasons she wanted to place the two worlds together. One being that these Muslim women really stand out in the water compared to other surfers—an act Sikorski extols as social bravery. She also wanted to change the perception of Muslim women from "the other" to who they really are—everyday Americans—because public distrust of Muslims still lingers in America.
"I feel that people are still kind of angry and afraid of Muslims right now," she said. "I guess the best way to portray Muslims to be what they most often are in Orange County is to put them in non-threatening situations like surfing, which is super nonviolent; it's women having fun."
Those works will appear at a Santa Ana art gallery as part of Sikorski's first solo exhibition titled, "Blackies to Seal and Everywhere in Between," referencing the different surf spots in North OC.
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Sikorski gave free surf lessons to the women—all of whom are from Orange County—and took pictures of them sitting in different poses before, during and after surfing. She used a canvas of wood panels collected from various beach piers and applied fabric from board shorts and other surf wear as a medium. Sikorski said she was intrigued by the courage it takes for women to learn a mostly male-dominated sport, let alone wearing a headscarf and a burkini while doing so.
"I'm interested in women who are socially brave, and who just put themselves out there even if they trip and fall, they're going to do it anyway because it makes their lives more rich," she said.
"Blackies to Seal and Everywhere in Between" opens Saturday, June 2 at 7 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. during the Santa Ana art walk at Kavika Works gallery, 731 Pointsettia Street, Santa Ana.
- Kate Sikorski, Artist Behind 'Burkini Surf Project' Will Display Some of Her Pieces at a Long Beach Gallery Sunday