“Art is all about expressing emotion”
On the walls of their school, they painted dreams of peace, their brushstrokes and illustrations expressions of emotions they would otherwise not be able to voice.
To help them cope with the present and overcome the trauma they have been through, Taylor’s Community initiated a mural painting project on 11th March 2019 for the Rohingya refugees studying in Rainbow of Love (Pelangi Kasih) school.
Hanif Mahpa, a teacher in the school says the project thought the students to be patient while boosting up their confidence level. “Over some small conversations with the students who was painting the wall, they have mentioned that they gained new experience and proud that they hand-painted a part of their school’s wall. The students are so happy that they can express themselves this way. They have enjoyed painting a lot,” he shared.
Rohingya face official and social discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which denies most of them citizenship and basic rights because they are looked on as immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many of them settled in Myanmar generations ago. Dire conditions led more than 200,000 to flee the country between 2012 and 2015.
The project was directed by art curator, Lienne Loy, a graduate in Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “The process of art making has a very therapeutic element that can allow for those who practice it to really express themselves, their emotions, as well as their inner self. In a way that can really help to relieve stress and anxiety and later on, address any suppressed issues that are difficult to surface. For children, especially refugees, who live under the burden of their displacement and who are exposed to the stress and anxiety of the uncertainty of their home, it’s important to have them take part in activity that allows them to improve those conditions and hopefully help them to cope,” Lienne explains.
She hopes that the project imparts some sense of pride and happiness in creating something beautiful and increases their self-esteem. “The mural has already changed the space and I hope that it continues to do so in a positive way, invigorating both the school as well as the students that walk by it everyday, to empower them with the confidence and reassurance that with effort and team work, something like a wall mural is actually possible to realise,” she added.
The direct involvement by the students has created a much deeper impact within them as it has both short-term and long-term therapeutic benefits for them. For children forced to start life over at such a young and formative age within a restrictive environment, art projects provide a creative outlet to express themselves and help discover who they really are.