These paintings are based on photographs of two young girls from Syria.
Often, when I’m playing with blind contour, I feel as though can see inside the eyes of my subject. If I’m quiet, present, and lucky, their soul “speaks” to me.
These girls spoke to me. They spoke of their struggles, of swimming through a sea of friends, family..and of hope.
I thought of Yusra Mardini and her courage, passion, and talent in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. In an article from the New York Times, I was struck by one of her stories:
Mardini and her sister were packed with 18 other people, including a 6-year-old boy, on a dinghy meant to accommodate six. On their first attempt, they were caught by border agents and sent back. On their second, the engine died after about 20 minutes, and the dinghy took on water.
Of the 20 people on board, only the Mardini sisters and two young men knew how to swim, so the four of them jumped overboard. It was about 7 at night, and the turning tide had made the sea harsh and choppy.
“Everyone was praying,” Mardini said. “We were calling the Turkish police, the Greek police, saying: ‘Please, please help us. We have children! We are drowning!’ And they just kept saying: ‘Turn and go back. Turn and go back.’”
Inspired by her story, and the story of the nearly 5 million Syrian refugees, I painted these two portraits.
To read the entire article: