I was a very impressionable teenager in the 1950s, when I first set eyes on a North African souq.
My grandmother and I had been traveling independently in Europe, from Ireland and Scotland, south through England, France and Spain. It was not all that long after World War II and Europe, itself seemed very “different” to this American teenager.
But I was in no way prepared for what I would see across the Straights of Gibraltar in Morocco, in Tangiers. The French were still present there and it was not unusual to see a European woman pushing a stroller on the same sidewalk with an Arab woman, covered from head to toe, with a toddler in hand. And Coca-Cola signs in both French and Arabic — on the same sign! The snake charmer! I found it all quite amazing.
But it was the sight of the the Arabs gathered in a souq, that North African market, that sunk deeply into my psyche. That view would influence where I chose to travel in future decades and even the jewelry I make today, a half century later!
It was my first view of how other people in the world lived that seemed in no way connected to the life I had known growing up in California. It stirred my my curiosity, my passion. I knew I wanted to see, learn more about other people, far away lands.
But then, time out to marry, raise a family and I was pretty tied down for two decades. I did manage to take my own children to Europe in 1973.
The yearning did not go away. Mexico was near and satisfied some of that need. Finally, in 1989 I saw India for the first time, but it was not till 2005 that I was able to return to India and made contacts with a Muslim family in Rajasthan that I would end up doing a photo documentary about their teenage daughter the following year.
That North African souq had a major influence on my current jewelry World Peace Collection ” . . . Creating a vision . . . beads from the world’s cultures and religions coming together in harmony.”