Join CODEPINK and Busboys and Poets as we welcome Malak Mattar.
Mattar is a young artist from the Gaza Strip, Palestine. She paints expressionist faces, figures and semi-abstract designs. Malak started painting at the age of thirteen. During the 51-day Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2014 that forced her to stay inside her house, she felt a compelling need to release all her pent-up emotions. She used basic art supplies from her school. Painting opened up a world of self-expression for her. Mattar has produced over 300 paintings.
Unable to leave Gaza due to the blockade, Mattar shared her work with the world via social media--Instagram and Facebook. On her fourteenth birthday, she was selling her work to buyers around the world. Within two years, Malak became financially independent. Her artwork garnered interest from galleries beyond Palestine, as she has held many solo and group exhibitions in Jerusalem, France, Spain, Turkey, Costa Rica, India, England and the United States. Malak was one of four Gaza artists featured in the ‘Art under Siege’ exhibit held in the Rayburn House Office building, US House of Representatives, Washington DC.
Mattar has seen three aggressions on Gaza in her childhood and has been deeply touched by these tragic events. She believes, “Every human being should be able to live in peace no matter what their origins are. In a conflict, the victims are the children. Even if they survive, they will be living with the horrors of the wars.” She has dedicated some of her artwork to Syrian and Palestinian children.
Sitti’s Bird is her first book. It is a unique children’s picture book that she wrote and illustrated. Reflecting her experiences of childhood in occupied Palestine, her story brings warmth and wonder to children as it tells of her rebirth as an artist during the 2014 airstrikes on Gaza. It is the story of a young girl whose love for her family and discovery of art help her channel her fears and overcome traumas that few of us can imagine—traumas shared by countless children in Gaza and around the world.