Technique: oil and acrylic on canvas
About Salam Noah
Salam, 32, was born to a family of fourteen in Iraq. While growing up he was well aware of the oppression suffered by his people – the Yazidis who are a distinct ethnic, indigenous people in Mesopotamia. Despite all challenges experienced in society, the siblings focussed on their education. Salam says “we were high achievers in anything we got involved in”. After completing primary school he had to interrupt his education in order to provide for the living and study expenses of his younger siblings. After they all became independent, Salam resumed his education, but this time through self-study because he was not allowed to go back to school after such a long break. With his own hard work and sustained support from his mother, he completed high school with help from all his siblings who also supported him financially and morally to enable him to continue his academic education. They continued to do so after the genocide committed by ISIS on his people forcing his family to flee the country in 2016 to seek safety elsewhere just before he could finish his studies.
In exchange for their newly built house a smuggler was willing to help the family reach Turkey. From there they made six attempts to cross the border with Bulgaria, but with no success. They then spent a month trying to cross the sea by boat to Greece and were finally successful in reaching Lesvos in March 2016 after three attempts. From there they were relocated to Ritsona refugee camp where Salam lived for one and a half years, before relocating to France. In the refugee camp, he started painting. Of this Salam says: ‘I wanted to deliver a message through my paintings, to tell everyone what it is like to live as a refugee, how we feel and how hard it is to fight for a better and safer life. I want everyone to know about our situation’. Besides painting Salam also plays the saz, lute and guitar as a way to deal with pent up frustrations. Salam says: ‘we refugees, are just like you; we paint and play music, we are all human beings’. Salam has exhibited his work in several European countries and in the USA.