This is an image drawn by an unschooled refugee child living in a camp in the outskirts of Chtoura, Lebanon. She is from Syria but has lived in Lebanon her whole life. In this image, we see “the human” in the form of the home/structure she herself has had to leave behind, as well as in the figure of the bombs/chemicals that caused her home to no longer be inhabitable. Like the migratory birds of our lesson — the White Crane Syrians call Abu Sa’ad (the Father of Joy) — she views the past not as something that has been lost to her forever, but as something that returns, in cycles. Whereas for the Abu Sa’ad of Syria’s skies, the trees of Ghouta return in cyclical patterns according to the season of their flight, the children of Syria return to their homes in the cyclical patterns of their dreams. Scents also evoke memories of return, which the painter here evokes with her finger prints. I was moved by the child’s use of her own hands and fingers to evoke scent and affect — of roses, bombs, fear, and hope.

– Tory Brykalski (Ph.D. Student)