Honoring Yezidi People and Culture

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Sunrise Over the Servants of the Creator

Mia Hampton Sadler

First Place


Digital ink, watercolor, charcoal, and acrylic on canvas

I am passionate about using art to inspire empathy and engage people in some of the most pressing issues of our time, including human rights, refugee care, and environmental conservation. In this piece, it was important to me to convey both the truth of the past, but also hope for the future, as seen specifically through the women who are impacted by genocide. The Yazidi woman in this piece has her eyes closed - burdened by the weight of the pain and suffering she has both endured and witnessed - but her face is turned toward the sky, under the light of a new day, with a sense of peace and hope for the future. She is surrounded by beautiful temples and foliage of the Garden of Eden to remind us of the rich history of the Yazidi people, and to symbolize how she stands on the shoulders of giants, the people who have come before her. The title is in honor of the meaning of the word Yazidi. I hope this artwork inspires us to remember that we are more than the pain we experience. We are agents for change. We are hope and the future.

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Tears of Gold: Portraits of Yazidi Woman

Hannah Rose Thomas

Second Place


Tempera and 24ct gold leaf on panel

These portrait paintings are of Yazidi women who escaped ISIS captivity. Many of the women had personally suffered sexual violence – others represent their wider community and the countless un-told stories of horror. All have been targeted on account of their faith and/or ethnicity and suffered additional vulnerability due to their gender. In Western media we heard barbaric accounts of the rape, torture and enslavement of Yazidi women, who are presented through a lens of violence and victimhood. However, this was not the story the women wanted to tell through their paintings. The paintings convey their dignity, resilience and unspeakable grief. Hannah used sacred imagery and early Renaissance tempera and Byzantine icon painting techniques, learned during her MA at the Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts. Hannah’s portraits are a visual testimony not only of war and injustice but also of humanity, dignity, and resilience. Through her paintings Hannah seeks to give voice to the voiceless, lionise the isolated and prescribe dignity to the persecuted and forcibly displaced.

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Portrait of Yezidi Woman

Aveen Ismail

Third Place


Digital oil and acrylic on canvas


My name is Aveen Ismail, I am a self-taught Yezidi artist from Iraq. When the Gulf War broke out in 1990, my and her family were forced to flee the country, living in a refugee camp at age 7. In 1993, my family and I were sponsored by the Canadian government, and we settled in British Columbia; my family and I were the first Yezidi family in North America. Living in peace without the worries of war, I had time to explore my passion. I began drawing, using simple pencil on paper and then diversified my work, expanding into cartoon characters, still-life images, and fashionable dresses. I express my gift using oil and acrylic on Photoshop software. I am constantly finding new mediums to experiment my talents and skills through art. When the genocide took place on August 3rd, 2014, against my people in Sinjar, I knew I had to use my arts to speak the truth about who are the Yezidis to the world through social media. In 2018, I self-published my first paper book by using my artworks in English called “Children of the Sun, The Yezidi People.” I used my arts to illustrate a simple and a beautiful way to describe the Yezidi’s beliefs with scared symbols, fashions, traditions, and spirituality on social media.

 

What does Freedom of Religion or Belief Mean to Me?

Religious Freedom and Harmony

Almas Khanamjan

First Place


Woolen thread on fine mesh strainer


I made it this piece as an imaginative portrait, which is my artistic model. In this portrait, I have depicted myself, using the kabuli (Afghan) dress on the girl's body and matka pot on her head, both which represent my culture. Surrounding the girl is black darkness, as a symbol of cultural and religious barriers in my country. In my opinion, music is a beautiful way to explore emotions and feelings, and freedom of expression. In this portrait, I am singing the song of religious freedom through the music of my Pashtun cultural flute, with various religious symbols coming out from the notes of the flute with the musical tones suspended in space. I think that music is the best way to balance and connect between different religions. This balance means acceptance of each other, patience, and tolerance. Living in a harmonious society without conflict and tension is very important. No single person in this world would prefer to live in tension, conflict, and war. Thus, strengthening unity and solidarity among religious adherents is essential to create a harmonious society. Inter-religious harmony should be built based on trust and mutual respect among multi-religious adherents. The existence of harmony could prevent any conflict which contributes to fragility of inter-religious relations and political instability. Being an artist and expressing of my thoughts are prohibited in a world where I live, and I want this to be changed once and for all!

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Let All Them that Breathe Partake

Jennifer Jenkins

Second Place


Washi paper and glue on canvas

Freedom is essential to our finding purpose and motivation in life; it engenders productivity and strength in individuals and communities.

Samuel F. Smith penned, "Sweet freedom's song; … Let all that breathe

partake" (Samuel F. Smith, "My Country 'Tis of Thee"). The clean outdoor air, the oxygen giving plant life, the nourishing food, and the variety provided for each individual need symbolizes the spiritual nourishment that freedom, and specifically religious freedom, provides to humankind. "Let all that Breathe Partake" is created with hand-torn pieces of Washi paper "painted" onto canvas with glue and a brush.

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Beauty in Unity

Jocelyn Gomez

Third Place


Digital acrylic on canvas

This digital art piece was made to depict the women in various religions showing support for the Yezidi! Women are often overlooked in various religions when they are the beauty and often the foundation of upholding practices at home and in cultural tradition. To show this interfaith beauty within all religions (from left to right) women of Buddhist, Islamic, Christian, Yezidi, Jewish, Atheist, and Sikh faith are shown in unity and support for the Yezidi woman! This piece was made on Procreate using various brushes and blending tools.

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