A celebrated young British artist uses her gift to convey the dignity and resilience of women survivors of violence in forgotten corners of the world.
This debut art book by British artist and human rights activist Hannah Rose Thomas presents her stunning portrait paintings of Yezidi women who escaped ISIS captivity, Rohingya women who fled violence in Myanmar, and Nigerian women who survived Boko Haram violence, alongside their own words, stories, and self-portraits. A final chapter features portraits and stories of Afghan, Ukrainian, Uyghur, and Palestinian women.
These portraits, depicting women from three continents and three religions, are a visual testimony not only of war and injustice but also of humanity and resilience. Many of the women have suffered sexual violence; all have been persecuted and forcibly displaced on account of their faith or ethnicity.
Hannah Rose Thomas met these women in Iraqi Kurdistan, Bangladeshi refugee camps, and Northern Nigeria while organizing art projects to teach women how to paint their self-portraits as a way to reclaim their personhood and self-worth. She gives women their own voice both by creating a safe space for them to share their stories and by using her impressive connections to make sure their stories are heard in places of influence in the Global North.
Thomas uses techniques of traditional sacred art - early Renaissance tempera and oil painting and gold leaf - to convey the sacred value of each of these women in spite of all that they have suffered. This symbolic restoration of dignity is especially important considering the stigma surrounding sexual violence. Hannah's work attests to the power of the arts as a vehicle for healing, remembering, inclusion, and dialogue.
Long after the news cameras have moved on to the next conflict, this book shines a spotlight on the ongoing work of healing and restoration in some of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities around the world.
All publisher profits from this book will be donated to relevant charities.