Vision of Refugee Healing

A painting documenting an interview on refugee community healing.


Inspiration for work:


This work is inspired by the words of Nyakoach Lam, an intern at the South Sudanese Community Center of San Diego and a graduate student working on her Masters in social work at SDSU. I spoke with her about a program she is working on at the center focused on the healing of sudanese refugee youth and young adults. This program aims to center the community aspect of trauma healing and helping individuals grow and heal through the growth of the community. I spoke with her regarding the program and her view on healing. Her main goal with the program is to transform the community center into a safe space that will facilitate healing and bring the community together in a space that does not require alcohol. The program will include forums and programs that facilitate personal and educational growth. She also spoke to me regarding what healing means for the community.


Using this, I created a piece of artwork representing refugee healing, including a painting of hands covered in bandaids holding each other surrounded by quotes from my interview with her that I have written in calligraphy lettering. In talking to her, she explained that healing for the sudanese refugee community means “creating the best version of yourself”, “eliminating harm”, and “collectively working on each other”, and that healing is “transformative”, all of which I have highlighted in the painting. I have also written and X’d out the words “stigma” and “pride” in reference to stigma and pride being the two largest barriers to refugee mental health care and healing, according to Nyakoach.


Artistic Process:


In creating this art, I used pencil and acrylic paint. I came to this idea by incorporating the idea of community as a symbol for healing. I used two hands to create this sense of helping and community and I relied heavily on my own calligraphy talent to bring her words to life. In creating this piece, I believe I have transformed myself and my understanding of healing as it relates to community and represents something so much larger. I also wanted to use this piece to bring attention to the program it represents and illuminate all the work that Nyakoach has done. This idea was created after an initial meeting with her and I quickly sought to create a work that incorporated both my artistic abilities and the transformative nature of this project of healing.

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