The piece that I chose to work with on this collaborative art project is Silver Specks. It depicts what appears to be a brightly colored road, dotted with silver, leading out of a brown, wasted, barren landscape. As I scrolled through the collection of art pieces made at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, I came across many that struck me. But this one spoke to me the most.
After watching the “We Are Kakuma” video, I discovered a newfound perspective on the life of a refugee. Most people imagine it to be a toxic wasteland full of sadness and hunger and a weary thirst for escape, but this video showed that it can be a happy place, too. It showed people dancing, laughing, hugging, and going about their daily lives with smiles and laughter. But it also showed tears, darkness, and tightly knotted barbed wire fences. The fences especially resonated with me because of how they conveyed the feeling of limbo, of stuckness. I decided to use that in my piece.
Silver Specks features what I’ve interpreted as a road that leads out of the camp, towards the hope of a new life. I’ve added a barbed wire fence in order to show a sense of the obstacles that stand in the way of that hope. I’ve also added people laughing, dancing, and singing. In doing so, I hoped to depict the zest of life in a refugee camp. Color, sound, music, and food reign supreme, but so does a heavy sense of longing. I wanted to show joy, bright and bold, but still trapped in the brown land, caught by the sharp threads of a barbed wire fence. The materials that I used were wire, felt tip pen, pencil, and natural materials. After watching multiple videos of refugee children and adults using natural and found objects to build homes, create artwork, and craft tools, I began to look at the world around me with a new, creative eye. I began examining every piece of nature I found with a “how can I make this work?” kind of attitude. I decided to incorporate the natural elements of life in a refugee camp into my piece by using sticks as posts for my fence, and bordering my piece in found natural objects.
In essence, what I sought to respond to, in this collaborative piece, was the feeling that we all have something we are striving for, something that is blocked by some sort of figurative barrier. Even when we are happy, there is still a heaviness in the feeling that something is missing, incomplete. Just as refugees have the feeling of being caught in a place, stuck between past and future, we all have a feeling of being stuck somewhere or with something, unable to escape until we let hope shine through.