'Cabbage Patch Kid' is a self-portrait by Feda Eid in her aunt's garden in Lebanon.

“Rooted Revelations,” a solo exhibition by Lebanese-American visual artist Feda Eid, is up through April 30 at Firefolk Arts in Waitsfield.

The show features photographs, sculptures made from cloth, and a video installation that Eid created while in residence at MASS MoCA in 2022.  

“Cabbage Patch Kid” is a self-portrait she took in her aunt’s garden in the mountains of Lebanon. She stands in a patch of giant cabbages while an enormous olive tree forms the backdrop of the shot.

“Olive trees are ancient to the Fertile Crescent,” she said. “Some of the oldest ones are there. And everything revolves around the seasons and its rituals – when to pick the olives, when to nurture the tree, this give-and-take relationship.” Of the portrait, she said “It was a pledge of allegiance to everything that had nourished me from my mom’s homeland, and reminded me how deep my roots are.”

While the show captures the revered status of the land and all it has to offer in the Levant, it also points to the destruction of that land. During opening night on March 9, Eid did a performance, enacting rituals that she sees as “portals into ancestral knowledge.” She rolled grape leaves, burned frankincense, and played with rose water – “a multi-purpose liquid gold for cleansing and medicinal healing,” she wrote in the show’s materials. A colorful screen of text was projected on the wall behind her. At one point it read, “the Israeli colonial entity has burned over 50,000 ancient olive trees in Lebanon.”

Eid’s parents fled Lebanon during the country’s civil war in 1982. That year, the Israel Defense Forces invaded southern Lebanon, leading to the exodus of almost one million people.

She grew up in Quincy, MA, where she now lives and works. Her parents didn’t speak much about the war, she said. “There was this overall sense that people who survived the civil war need to shut their mouths and continue on. They didn’t get to heal from it.”  

In high school, Eid immersed herself in art practice – mainly painting and drawing. “Growing up Muslim and Arab in a predominately white area, I found a lot of comfort in the art room because I could be there and get lost in another world, and explore who I was through art and color.” 

Much of Eid’s work is created with intense, saturated color. “I’ve always felt emotions with colors,” she said. “My grandmother was a seamstress and her whole house was filled with things she made, all the seating done in fabric. I felt drawn to all these textures, and colors, and patterns.”

“When the colors came in,” Firefolk Arts owner and curator Tina Picz said, “it was so enlivening. Especially with winter here, when it’s just so dark.”

Picz first met Eid in Boston about six years ago at another exhibition. She was captured by Eid’s use of materials and her commentary on heritage and mixed identities.

Eid said that working on pieces for the show was “both heart-breaking and healing.”

“I’m sharing this work that I’m proud of, and it’s made to honor where it came from, outside of the Western, white gaze,” she said. “The art world largely loves stories about Arabs where we are oppressed, we have no voice, someone is harming us, and white people saved us. But this is my story, and I did it the way I wanted to share it.”