“Since I came here after the war, after all of what has happened in my life in Iraq; I went through three wars, so it was at different times; when I was teenager and when I was adult and even when I was a kid, and each one has had a different impact on me,” Luma Jasim said. “These things I cannot erase, and I found this coming out in my painting.”
Jasim, a senior visual arts major with an emphasis in painting and drawing, moved to Boise in 2008 from Baghdad, Iraq.
She is now showcasing her solo undergraduate exhibition, “Circumstances of War,” in the Student Union Building (SUB) Gallery. This moving exhibition explores Jasim’s first-hand experiences with three separate wars.
“She is an undergraduate art student that has a solo exhibition in this space which is really a huge milestone,” said Holly Gilchrist, fine arts manager. “That’s really remarkable and something definitely for Luma to be proud of and also for the department to be proud of to have a student of this caliber in their ranks and also for the university to be proud of because she is a highly prolific artist.”
On Thursday, 30 minutes before her first artist reception, Jasim strolled through her exhibition reflecting on her paintings and the experiences which served as inspiration.
Jasim described her feelings in the moments before her reception as a combination of excitement and anxiety.
Each of her pieces is paired with stanzas of poetry written by war survivor and poet Dzevad Vrabac.
Jasim said her personal favorite is a piece entitled “And ‘one picture is worthy of thousand words’ – perhaps an action or a deed is an origin of it all?” The drawing depicts a single hand holding multiple human skulls.
“I feel like all of the things just came in one word about the war, what it is,” Jasim said. “I like the central thought to say that one hand can kill so many people just from a decision, or even fascism. When you have a fascist leader it is the same idea. One person controls all this group and could kill them in one decision.”
As 4:30 p.m. approached, a sizeable crowd filtered in to Jasim’s exhibition, taking in her art as well as live music from a piano cornered in the gallery and a spread of food.
Students, faculty and Jasim’s family members lingered, discussing the artwork and reflecting on Jasim’s expression of experience.
“I thought it was really evocative, it’s all just really emotional and striking,” Emily Benda, sophomore biology major, said of Jasim’s work. “A lot about tension comes from the title I guess, ‘The Circumstances of War,’ and really brings that to life.”
Jasim encouraged viewers to take in more than just the visual element of her artwork.
Interaction with her work, Jasim said, means taking time to engage with each piece, emotionally connect with the subject matter and walk away understanding the theme of her artwork.
“Feel the pieces, don’t just pass it like that, like it’s red and white or black,” Jasim said. “Just give it more time to see the story behind it because that really will be, good for them, enjoyable and more education about what is going on in the world.”