Malak Mattar

Malak is a Palestinian from Gaza and just 18 years old, but she is old beyond her years, having lived through three major attacks on her home. She didn’t start painting until 2014, when the 51-day Israeli assault was raging around her Gaza City home. Like other children, she found herself bored and anxious a lot, since it was not safe to go outside. So Malak started painting to “discharge all of my negative energy,” she explains.

Malak had been given some cheap paper and water colors at her government school, and it was all she had at hand at the time of the assault. Soon, though, she discovered she has a budding talent and loved the self-expression the “colors” allowed. She has been painting ever since, although now with acrylics on canvas.

Malak currently lives in Istanbul, where she is studying on scholarship.