Art As Sanctuary’ shares an empowering story


Sofia RositaniReporter

After leaving her country behind to make herself known, Malak Mattar created her art solely off the trauma from her past, as it reflects the struggles the Palestinians face, that is often not seen by the world.

Mattar, is a 20-year-old artist, according to the Palestine Museum website, who is “of startling originality from the Gaza Strip who paints powerfully expressionist faces, figures, and semiabstract designs.”

Mattar gives her life story and what she had to witness and go through as a child in the Gaza Strip.

Mattar, who now lives in Istanbul, Turkey, said she would like to go back one day to Palestine.

“Wherever I travel, I always feel like I miss my country and I need to be able to go there and enjoy it with my family,” said Mattar.

She now goes to school in Istanbul and travels the world talking about her artwork. After Mattar spoke at Southern, she then had a talk at Yale University.

Many of the students who attended the event said they had no idea who Mattar was or her career as an artist and heard of this event through their class.

A member of the women and gender studies master’s program, as well as social work, Katie Arnone, a graduate student, said she heard about the event in one of her classes.

“They said that it was going to be a really cool event that talked about different experiences with culture and expression and the use of art to explore someone’s experience specifically with oppression,” said Arnone.

She said she also believes everyone should take women and gender studies classes so others understand the oppression many women go through in different countries.

Some students attended the event because of their professor Yi-Chun Tricia Lin, put it on.

Environmental systems and sustainability major, Emma Sweeney, a sophomore, said she was interested to see how Mattar’s background inspired her work.

“The artist is our age and she is from Palestine,” said Sweeney, “and it’s really interesting to see how due to her culture and the way she had grown up and how it influenced her art and what it does about women’s empowerment.”

Sweeney said she had never heard of Mattar before her professor spoke about her in class.

Mattar is a political science major at a university in Istanbul, Turkey, but originally, she said political science was not something she wanted to major in.

Instead, she said she wanted to do art as a major, but because her school does not offer art as a major, it was between medicine and political science. Since she wanted to continue her art, she chose political science.

Mattar said her message to people is to let them know to stand up for others.

“Speak up for other people from different nationalities and always help as much as you can by raising the word, and by speaking up when there is something injustice happening,” said Mattar.

Mattar, was given gifts and birthday wishes by the faculty and students.

“I just want people to hear my story and take action whether it’s supporting or whether it’s educating others about Palestine,” she said. “So, I want people to also stand with people under siege, under war, I ask people for solidarity and support.”

Photo Credit: Roma Rositani

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