From the ongoing civil wars to the catastrophic famine to shockingly brutal exiles, refugees and displaced people face seemingly unending hardships. On top of that, they face discrimination, detention, and abuse as they seek safety in other countries. Some countries have enacted multiple bans on refugees and unintentionally fanned a slave market in others, and child refugees face continual exploitation. However, alongside these traumas, there are also countless uplifting stories about refugees finding new homes, people lending helping hands, and groups working to counter the narratives that paint refugees in a negative light.
Migration – and the situation of refugees in particular – is a hot topic in public debates all over the world. While millions of people are on the move as a result of wars, economic deprival, social inequality, and discrimination to look for better opportunities elsewhere, the hostilities and xenophobia against migrants are rising everywhere.
As an artist, I see the urgent need to raise awareness in societies about the complexities of the migration process and difficulties migrants and refugees face. Painting their traumatic stories aims to develop a visual expression as a very effective method in sensitizing people about their prejudices and stereotypes, addressing people’s empathy and provoking reflection and critical thinking.
Ultimately, the collective paintings will show the (in)human side of what migration entails; it will be an interactive learning experience in which the unimaginable becomes imaginable. One of my fundamental aims is to fully include, through interviews, migrants and their perspectives in the development process of this painting project. The intention is to build awareness and promote conflict resolution and discussions of social issues to spread the message of hope, unity, and positivity to families that have left their desolate homes.
The use of art as a curative medium is to express the scarring truths these refugees undergo so that history will not define who they are but instead show their resiliency in the face of suffering and adversity. The paintings will allow refugees to advocate for themselves, their families, their homeland in a way where people of all backgrounds, locales, and faiths will have a chance to listen and hopefully attempt to understand.