Abu Dhabi: In a rare opportunity to tell the world about their experiences more than a dozen human trafficking victims have shared their thoughts through a range of colourful paintings.
The second Silent Voices exhibition which opened on Sunday at Al Ghaf Gallery showcases 61 images by 13 women staying at the non-profit Shelter for Women and Children (Ewa’a).
“I was contacted by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (Admaf) to train the women at Ewa’a over the course of six months,” said British artist Jennifer Simon.
“Over 50 hours of hard work paid off. The women became proud of what they had accomplished and some even told me that this is what they had been searching for their entire lives,” Simon said.
Simon previously worked with 34 women in the first Silent Voices exhibition.
“You cannot remain unchanged after connecting so closely with these wonderful souls. They each have a different story to tell, yet they were all going through similar experiences. The progress they made was incredible and the pride they each ended up with after seeing what they had created was a great reminder to them that they could be more than victims,” she added.
Each painting has a name and description that reflects everything from their deepest fears to the most hopeful of wishes.
“I miss my two girls, I don’t know what happened to them,” reads the description of a painting titled Lost Lives. Meanwhile, another one reads: ‘I was in a cocoon but now I am a butterfly.’
“Some of these women worked on their artworks for 27 hours over the course of several days. Art is a therapy to most of them because they are not under pressure to produce work. Instead, they look inside themselves for inspiration and have the complete freedom of revealing what they believe the world should know about them,” Yusra, a supervisor at Ewa’a, told Gulf News.
Yusra, whose last name has been withheld for safety reasons, highlighted the triumphs which the women had to go through to create their artwork.
“Oftentimes they would have to reapply paint in areas where their tears filled the canvas as they recollected some of their most feared and revered memories like their captivators or their children,” Yusra said.
Ranging between the ages of 19-35 the women come from Africa and Asia and their work will be on display at the Al Ghaf Gallery until Thursday from 10am until 9pm. All proceeds will go to the shelter.