artist profile: malak mattar
Interview by Parker Schug
As a sixteen-year-old living in the United States, having the opportunity to interview Malak was eye-opening. So many luxuries that I take for granted, Malak has to live without, and she does so with a positive attitude. For example, having electricity is not a guarantee in Gaza. In fact there have been many days that Malak has endured having no electricity at all.
Additionally, Malak’s use of art to convey her emotions and her diligence in creating inspired me to give greater focus to my expressive passions, especially because I am fortunate enough to have the resources to do so. As a seventeen-year-old, wise beyond her years, Malak is an amazing role model for children, teens, and adults all around the world.
At only seventeen years old, Malak Mattar is living in complete turmoil yet expressing her
unease in a breath-taking manner. Malak is a citizen of Gaza City, part of the Gaza Strip, a location burdened with conflict, specifically in Palestinian Gaza, Malak’s homeland, the Israeli Military has been keeping citizens in isolation and blocking all resources from coming in. There have been three wars consisting of a series of airstrikes, ground fighting, and the death of over 1,000 civilians in Gaza. Malak is living in conditions unimaginable to many, but has chosen to translate her emotions into masterpieces.
I had the privilege of learning more about her story from Malak herself, and was inspired not only by her art but by the outlook she has on life.
When did you begin creating art and why did you start?
I started painting when I was 14 years old. The reason I had to is [I was] feeling depressed and suffocated from the last war.
Did you have any background in art before this?
Not exactly, but my uncle was an artist and I was watching him while painting. It WAS inspiring and I was questioning a lot [chuckles].
What made you chose art as a form of expression?
I think Art is the best [form of] expression because it's natural and we can't lie.
How did creating art impact your life?
Art impacts my life a lot. I feel that I have a reason I live for and to tell people about my stories and hopes too. As well I make money from time to time so I can buy art material.
What types of materials did you use when you first started?
I used watercolor and paper.
What types of materials do you use now?
Now I use acrylic and oil.
Describe your creative process.
Creativity isn’t something we can describe. It’s a gift then we can just make and look at.
What inspires you most?
Everything inspires me. Even air.
How did becoming an artist impact your life?
With art, I feel more special and unique. As well it helps me understand directly and analyze more so it helps me at school.
What piece of your artwork are you most attached to?
If you could be known for one piece of your artwork, which piece would it be?
For my painting “Dominance” it talks about the world in general.
Your piece titled “Sweet 16” is quite thought provoking. What does it represent for you?
This piece is quite crazy I admit. But it feels to me as it’s a level where I’m living between
imagination and reality. And the cake is self celebration.
How do you think your age has affected your artwork?
Well that’s a cool question. I think my age makes my artwork different. Like a teenager I feel like having many feelings a day like I go through many thoughts and feelings.
How has your homeland, Gaza, affected your artwork?
Living in Gaza makes my art sad and me also. It’s just about imagining freedom while having prisons.
Besides being an artist, what are some of your hobbies?
Psychology. I do feel so curious to know how other people feel and think when they make
spontaneous signs and beckons.
If you had to choose three words to describe your artwork, what would they be?
Trying, deep, can’t be explained and vague.
If you had to choose three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Child, teenager, elderly.