Straddling the line between Abstract Expressionism and Impressionism, I am an avid lover of nature and, light. My paintings feature the elements and the natural landscape, characteristically finding unusual vantage points from which to celebrate them. We view stands of towering trees not by looking up at them, but down at their reflections in a body of water. Here, the various effects of light and shadow become the characters in a timeless drama.
Why Bird's Eye View?
As humans, we usually view the world through our respective lenses. So seldom do we look at things from a different perspective-- another vantage point.
I decided to cart my supplies to my girls' treehouse to explore an elevated vantage point, high above the ground. This bird's eye view presents the same shallow lake with intense profundity layers and an intricate movement among the azure, trees, and water. The modern eye becomes a student, striving to distinguish the complexity between shapes and a subtle variety of colors.
UpRooted: The Flight of Refugees
I see an urgent need to raise awareness and support in societies about the complexities of the migration process and the extreme difficulties migrants and refugees face. Refugees and displaced people – especially children – face seemingly unending hardships, including ongoing civil wars, catastrophic famine, and shockingly brutal exile. Even as they seek safety in other countries, they often face discrimination, detention, and abuse. Some countries have enacted bans on refugees and others unintentionally cultivated a slave market, often forcing an unprotected and vulnerable child into exploitation from armed groups, terrorism, or early marriage.
For many of us, these stories can seem both physically and theoretically distant from our own realm, but in our deeply interconnected world, we’re all responsible for what happens to the vulnerable – and we’ll all benefit from helping uplift them.
Looking back, I can recall my own experience:
“Having lived through multiple wars in Lebanon, my family and I have been displaced repeatedly. If it weren't for the warm and welcoming homes of distant strangers, my family’s fate would have been fraught with tragedy.
It’s 1982, and I’m sitting upright, cross-legged, with a sketch pad and pencil on my lap. Complete darkness around me; my family members propped against each other. Cold, concrete walls. The hopeful waiting has now turned into a heavy reality--we aren’t sleeping in our beds tonight.
Days and nights pass. Our underground bunker becomes our security as battles rage over our heads. On one of those many, nondescript nights of waiting, I sit up in the darkness and I begin sketching--blindly pressing pencil to paper. I visualize images and then I sketch them. Only when the light of day allows a glimpse, do I discover what I had created. These images, my morning discoveries, became a peaceful escape."
As an artist, I feel compelled to raise awareness in free societies about the complexities of the migration process and the difficulties that refugees face. Embodying refugees’ traumatic stories through visual expression opens our eyes to prejudices and stereotypes, sparking empathy through reflection. Ultimately, this collection of art presents the inhuman plight of refugees while, as a curative medium, it showcases the human narrative embodied within this dark landscape. May history not simply categorize refugees, but instead, tell the story of their resilience in the face of adversity.
With this body of work, I intend to provoke empathy toward refugee children. It is my desire that those who are afforded better opportunities can reach out, and through donations in support of education, help to elevate a child out of the cycle of poverty and exploration.
I have always dreamt of creating a more peaceful world in which we collaborate, empathize, and uplift. Just as the process of painting gave me an escape during my childhood, in 2016 I co-founded and donated my art to the non-profit Education Unbound, to help others escape. Let us all pay that feeling forward to underprivileged children so that they, too, can write their stories, complete with joy and boundless opportunities.
You can support this program today by making a donation here, or you can bring the exhibit to you to support awareness in your community.