Reacting the Impact of War in Yemen through Visual Arts


This paper is a concept paper for the project "The spirit of Yemen" which was created for visual art design subject. The aim of this project is to show the impact of the war in Yemen which started in March 2015. This war pushed the country in the midst of an acute humanitarian crisis, and there is no end in sight to this deadly conflict (UNICEF, 2016). This war has destroyed the beautiful landscapes of the country, burnt lands, and more importantly the happiness of its people. Furthermore, many areas in Yemen had limited access to internet, electricity, and clean water. The sanitation systems were destroyed. Many houses, schools, hospitals have been attacked, and all parties involved in Yemen civil war denied any humanitarian assistance. According to UNICEF (2016), the violence has forced the majority of Yemenis into destitution. An estimated 21.2 million people or 82 percent of the total population need urgent humanitarian assistance. Therefore, this visual art design will give a clear view of the crisis in Yemen especially for those who are advocates of brotherhood and humanitarian help. Moreover, every element in this art design represented the current issues in Yemen. Hence, the elements are collections of different materials and this art design has its influence on installation art: Dadaism, and Minimalism art movements.

“The Spirit of Yemen” 90 x 200 cm. 2017

About the Artwork: “The spirit of Yemen” 

is flat assemblage sculpture is the final outcome of the concept paper “Reacting the Impact of War in Yemen through Visual Arts.” This artwork composed of two layers, the first layer used Hadramism concept art. And the second layer influenced by two art movements which they are Dadaism and Minimalism. In this project, all of the elements were combined into one white flat background, wall-mounted, and having a dimension of 90 x 200 cm board. In addition, there are 138 photos forming geometrical eyes shape. Also, there are 17 vertical lines which represent the timeline in Yemen by years, and 9 horizontal elements which represent the many humanitarian issues faced by the country. The vertical and horizontal lines have lengths of 80 cm and 176 cm, respectively. Moreover, this art work exhibited to the public from 7- 18 August at KDU college university in Shah Alam, Malaysia.


The inspiration:

As an artist, I am interested in the cultural heritage more than anything. Moreover, most of my visual artwork as a graphic designer and photographer is about Yemen’s cultural heritage. Therefore, I want to represent the current situation of my country from my own observation by producing creative artwork. With this, I came up with an idea using the traditional Yemen fabric called Futa. Futa is the most featured textile in Yemeni cultural heritage. Moreover, in Futa, the element designs are used to represent cultural symbols by the craftsmen. Hence, I found that Futa is a perfect way to represent important issues in Yemen instead of our other cultural symbols. However, I have done this visual art design differently, and it is not even made of fabric. Instead, the artwork was made by other elements such as whiteboard foam to represent the fabric, colored yarns, internet cable, electrical wire, Bamboo stalk, farming rope, hospital dextrose tube, and gold chain. 



The process of making the artwork:

First of all, I started making the backdrop, which is made up of four pieces of a whiteboard. I combined board by knitting them together using white threads to produce a size of 90 x 200 cm. After that, I organized and pasted the 138 black and white photos to form the eyes shape using liquid glue. Then, I passed the start and end points of the 17 vertical black threads on the board to create the timeline. After that, I put the nine horizontal elements using glue for the thread elements and knitted the rest using nylon for the stability of these elements.