My friend Becky recently shared some of Ali Golzad’s hauntingly beautiful art made about the Invisible People; the Iranian artist’s work exquisitely illustrates the unique expressions of child soldiers, rag-pickers, refugees, and those among us who are the most marginalized members of society. His creative use of simple materials, mostly just sharpie pens and reused cardboard, only serves to highlight the power and resonance of his portraits.
Golzad has a special affinity for the plight of these precarious individuals, as he was forced to flee his native country due to war when he was just a child, and was separated from his parents for several years. The artist explains why depicting the displaced remains so important to him:
“According to current estimates, as many as twenty million children are displaced by armed conflicts or human rights violations around the world.
I have a strong affinity for these traumatized and abused children because when I was ten years old, I was forced to flee my native Iran due to revolution there and live as an orphan in Sweden until I was reunited with my parents three years later. To me the plight of child soldiers and children abused as sex slaves escapes notice in the civilized word which causes me to question how civilized we really are. To me, these are invisible people.
My choice of material, corrugated cardboard, to create bas-relief portraits of displaced children in their native habitats, reflects their unseen status. Like corrugated cardboard, the twenty million are everywhere yet invisible.
I have struggled with my material to create images that are highly emotional. The three-dimensional shapes of the eyes, noses and mouths, the wrinkled clothing, and the shapes of the hands and arms, outlined with Sharpie-lines, are a result of my struggle with the cardboard to capture the empathy we would have for any enslaved people.
Although I do not consider myself a political person per se, my goal with ‘Invisible People’ is to create moving artworks that bring up emotions of estrangement and anomie we all experience from time to time.”
Here is Becky Striepe’s post on one of our network’s sister sites, Crafting a Green World, in which she discusses Golzad’s powerful cardboard art portraits from a craftivist’s perspective:
Craftivism in Action: Ali Golzad’s Invisible People
Artist Ali Golzad gives a face to traumatized children in these beautifully haunting examples of craftivism in action.
War displaced Golzad from his home in Iran when he was only 10 years old, so these pieces are very personal to him. He lived in a Swedish orphanage for three years before his parents finally found him. His mission with his cardboard bas-relief portraits is to give faces to other children suffering trauma and abuse.
In his artist’s statement for Invisible People, he says:
“To me the plight of child soldiers and children abused as sex slaves escapes notice in the civilized word which causes me to question how civilized we really are. To me, these are invisible people.”
Read more here.
Visits Golzad’s website here.