In February, Nashvillian artist, Annika Best, will exhibit Yalla يالا (Hurry Up), a photo account of her time spent in the Beqaa valley of Lebanon, a Syrian Refugee camp.
“As the Syrian War wages on and more and more Syrians are forced to flee their homes, this series serves as a reminder that these statistics are not faceless.”
The reception will take place in conjunction to the First Saturday Art Crawl on February 6th at 6pm in Casa Azafrán. The exhibition will remain on display until the end of April.
In September of 2014, Best traveled to Europe volunteering as an artist for a German based NGO, working on various social art projects. In December of 2014, her small group left Germany and traveled to Zahlé, Lebanon, where they worked with Syrian Refugees.
“In the camps I sat with families, heard many women’s personal stories, held their babies, and drank their tea. I taught art crafts at their schools, painted faces and set up photoshoots for the children, and got to play a lot of soccer in a playground made up mostly of animal waste.”
As of December of 2014, there were 2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and each of them have a unique story. After 5 years of conflict in their country, they often feel forgotten and seen as “terrorists”.
“These photographs are of my friends, their children, their homes, and their conditions.”
Along with Best’s opening, Casa Azafrán will be hosting two high school students from Metro Nashville Public Schools. Areen Mohamad-Ali’s senior Capstone project, سلام (Peace), is focused on ISIS, its impact on the Middle East and Arab-Americans here in the U.S. Alondra Pina will be presenting work from her AP Art class.
About the artist: Annika Best earned her bachelor’s in Fine Art Photography from Georgia State University’s Earnest G. Welsh School of Art and Design in 2011. She relocated to Nashville, Tennessee soon after, pursuing her current career in photography.
About the students: Areen Mohamad-Ali is a senior at Overton High School. Alondra Pina is a senior at Glencliff High School and a member of Conexión Américas’ “Escalera” program.