With collective power in refugee mental health healing comes light.
As I began planning an art piece that centers refugee mental health, a concept surfaced in the process: “collective power.” I made this inspiration the piece’s focus where light pours out from where the two women touch. I wanted the woman on the right to have her chin resting on the woman on the lefts shoulder because it is a type of touch that holds a deep sort of care and love. Clouds and fog surround them, but healing and light shoots out where they connect. My artwork was done all digitally on Procreate. I first laid out a few sketches of how I generally wanted the piece to look. After a few versions, I finally settled on one. Because of its significant impact on the piece’s mood, I worked on assembling a color palette that struck a balance between gray-tones and the optimism that is conveyed with lighter colors. It was important to have the women be the most prominent aspect of the piece— to highlight their personhood— and so I first began painting them. I put down a base color and then proceeded to build their skin with different shades. I took care to create details that conveyed the portrait subjects’ resilience, strength, and hope. I blended my strokes together for a smoother look, then filled in their clothing. I put a background layer down and worked in small strokes of many different greens and beiges to replicate the patchy dryness of El Cajon Mountain. I decided to add a street behind the women to emulate the feeling of displacement and abrupt change. After I painted and blended the clouds behind the mountain and women, I added in a departing plane to indicate the new stage of their lives starting in San Diego. I then added in the gold light and adjusted the lighting on the women to form a glow on their faces, illustrating the luminance and power of the touch.