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“The Little Picasso” : 10-Year-Old Afghan Boy Farhad Nuri Paints and Dreams in Serbian Refugee Camp

Every child has inbuilt talent, only some get the chance of polishing it

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Refugee Children
Farhad Nouri poses with a portrait of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in his room in the "Krnjaca" collective centre near Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, March 13, 2017. A 10-year-old boy from Afghanistan is known as Little Picasso among migrants in a Serbia asylum camp because of his artistic talent. Nouri, his parents and two younger brothers hope to move to Switzerland or the United States, but have been stuck in the Balkan country for months unable to cross the heavily guarded borders of the European Union. VOA
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– by Surbhi Dhawan                                                               

June 21, 2017: With eyes bright lit, a 10-year-old Afghan Boy Farhad Nuri paints his own world of happiness and courage in a peaceful corner of the world away from his home where gunshots are loud enough to kill the child in him.

Hatred and terrorism are the villains of his life who are responsible for the abandoning the feeling of home in him. It’s not a story of a single child who is suffering and is not fortunate enough of carefree childhood; it’s a story of every child playing with the terror in plastic, tin, clothes and bamboo tents.

Every child has inbuilt talent, only some get the chance of polishing it. From poets to rappers, singers to dancers, painters to writers, name it and its present in the refugee tents. These children’s only fault is to be born at the wrong place.

Ten-year-old Farhad knows where he stands amidst the other world and his own world. He distinguishes his native country Afghanistan with other countries through his drawings. He shows Afghanistan as a lady covering and isolating his face from rest of the world and rest of the world is shown as a naked face with shining eyes and a gracious smile.

Farhad’s drawings are nothing less than of a professional artist. He has made the sketches and portraits of his heroes like Salvador Dali, the legendary artist who used to paint surrealism and Angela Merkel who opened the doors of Europe for refugees. Both these heroes are close to his heart as one describes his existing conflict between dreams and reality and other helped him in escaping terrorism.

Like every other child, Farhad too wants to excel through enhancing his talent. He wants to go to a place where his dreams can bloom without the sounds of terror and inability of refugee tents. Farhad’s family is one of the many who fled Taliban to save themselves. Farhad’s paintings clearly show that talent does not discriminate and it does not promote hatred. His paintings communicate what he and hundred others like him cannot. Don’t these children have a right to a naughty smile, a carefree play, free dreams and an assured future?

– by Surbhi Dhawan of NewsGram. Twitter @surbhi_dhawan

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US Painted in New Colours By A Refugee Artist

"There's so much talk in the news now about refugees, and how many people we should let into the country, and what are they contributing," Weiss said.

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Ahmad Alkarkhi has started painting with a whole new color palette since he came to the U.S. These colorful horses represent refugees who come from all over and work and live together. VOA

Refugees carry few material possessions when they flee war, violence or persecution in their homelands. But they do bring talent and skill to their new countries.

At the Sandy Spring Museum in Sandy Spring, Maryland, that talent is on display in an exhibit of six refugee artists from Iraq, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Some of the displayed works depict the refugee artists’ memories of their homelands.

“My hometown is Wollo,” explained Ethiopian artist Fetun Getachew. “There is a marketplace once a week. People meet there at the markets for not only buying or selling, [but] just meet together for so many purposes.”

Six artists from Iraq, Ethiopia and Somalia exhibit their work at the Sandy Spring Museum in Maryland, which bills itself as the "heart of the community."
Six artists from Iraq, Ethiopia and Somalia exhibit their work at the Sandy Spring Museum in Maryland, which bills itself as the “heart of the community.” VOA

Iraqi artist Ahmad Alkarkhi contributed a landscape of his country. “I want to show Americans good things about my country,” he said. “This beautiful landscape, no war or different things.”

But coming to a new country inevitably changes the work. For Alkarkhi, it has added color.

“In my country, we don’t have a lot of color there, just gray and brown,” he said. “Here, I saw four seasons clear. I saw many colors. This … change[s] my art, and I need to add more colors to my painting.”

In an unincorporated community of about 6,000 people near Washington, D.C., the museum considers itself a “living history museum,” but not in the conventional sense in which museums employ re-enactors to depict history.

Iraqi Exhibition
Visitors study some of the works on display in the refugee exhibit at the Sandy Spring Museum in Maryland. Many of the works depict scenes from the artists’ home countries. VOA

Rather, Sandy Spring is a place where the community can gather and “have unexpected encounters,” according to the museum website. “It means having cultural artists create experiences for the entire community to enjoy.”

Museum executive director Allison Weiss thinks this particular exhibit says a lot about the contributions of refugees.

“There’s so much talk in the news now about refugees, and how many people we should let into the country, and what are they contributing,” Weiss said. “And I think this exhibit shows that there’s individuals behind the word refugees and they have all sorts of talents that maybe we’re not hearing about from the news.”

Dancing with colors

Alkarkhi works in maintenance at an apartment complex in Riverdale, Maryland. But at night and on the weekends, he can be found in front of a canvas set up in the living room of his small apartment.

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Iraqi artist Ahmad Alkarkhi paints a landscape at a park near his home in Riverdale, Maryland. VOA

“Painting for me [is] like music. Each painting, different music. I just tell myself, ‘Let me dance with colors on the canvas,'” he said.

Alkarkhi graduated from the University of Baghdad, College of Fine Arts. He was a well-known artist in Iraq until violence forced him to flee to Syria in 2006. But war came there, too. Once again, he was uprooted, relocating three years later to Riverdale with his wife and two children.

Alkarkhi said creating art is his way to give back to America for helping him and his family build a new life in safety.

“America gives refugees a lot of things. I want to do beautiful painting, and I give it to this country and to the people to enjoy with my art,” he said.

Alkarkhi is also painting his experiences as a refugee in his new color palette, as in his piece, “Colorful Horses.”

Also Read: Fear Rise of ‘Lost Generation’ as More Syrian Refugee Children Out of School

“These horses are like refugees. Some from Europe, some from Africa, some came from [the] Middle East. And they come here, they work together, live together, do many things together,” he explained.

“Then, after like 10, 20 years, everybody say I am American. And everybody try to do something good for this country.” (VOA)