The Maiden Voyages Project is the translation from text to images of the diaries of five women: four from the Middle East—Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian West Bank—and the artist herself, an American from Vermont. On the same day, once a month for one full year, each woman kept a detailed journal of her day.
The diaries, all illustrated by Valerie Hird, are intended to make the lives of real women of varying cultures and backgrounds more accessible. To Americans inured to the incessant media reportage of war, Maiden Voyages reduces the overwhelming issues of religion, cultural difference, and politics to a more human and intimate scale. The project moves beyond conflict based vocabulary and allows individuals to interact on a personal level. Many of the illustrations are dedicated to the mendacity of work, home, and family—the most accessible aspects of daily life, yet the least understood in our exposure to other cultures. Although the site is bi-lingual (Arabic/English), the illustrations have very little text, thus minimizing the issues surrounding translation.