One year later, art is helping them heal.
In Raleigh on Saturday, hundreds viewed this art at the United Muslim Relief-Triangle Art Expo, which was hosted in The Light House — the community center created in memoriam of Barakat.
Appropriately, the theme was “A Year in Reflection.”
“Art is a common ground for everyone,” said . “One of our main messages was condemning hate.”
Durham resident Ibrahim Darhmaoui learned to heal through the love and faith of his mother, Zohra Selama, an immigrant from Morocco.
Before the Chapel Hill shooting, Selama didn’t understand what Islamophobia was. Before the shooting, Darhmaoui said she focused on faith and family.
After the shooting, she was forced to think about the pain.
“She was exposed to Islamophobia and her best way to combat it was through her art,” Darhmaoui said.
Darhmaoui, marketing chairperson for UMR-Triangle, worked with his mother to foster understanding and submitted her artwork to the expo for auction.
Her piece, which features words from scripture, depicts calligraphy in the shape of a soldier holding a sword.
“Her message behind this is that the best weapon to believe in to combat this hate or to combat all of the struggles and obstacles in this world is the words of mercy and hope and faith,” Darhmaoui said.
He said the greatest thing his mother has taught him is to embrace his feelings — positive or negative.
“I was able to see that there is more than one way to express how you feel given that, for a lot of people, their voices are unheard,” he said.
Art taught Kimberly Acosta to love herself.
“When I was growing up, I was always insecure about my own beauty and self-love and always being about what society told me was cool,” she said. “Since the theme was ‘A Year in Reflection,’ I did a lot of self-reflecting and through these pieces, I realized that you can really love yourself no matter what.”
Though she’s not Muslim, Acosta submitted two pieces to the art expo — one series of portraits entitled “The Essence of Femininity” and one portrait of “Our Three Winners,” which depicts portraits of Deah, Yusor and Razan.
“I wanted to let people in the Muslim community know that even though I may not completely believe what they believe, it doesn’t matter — I can still support them in a rightful way,” she said.
Nada Elhertani, who got her master’s degree from N.C. State University in 2014, sees Razan as her role model.
She knew Deah, Yusor and Razan through the Muslim community they shared.
Elhertani spent the past year reflecting upon the lives of her friends as community members and as positive role models for all. This translated into her two calligraphic paintings and one reimagined Syrian flag painting.
The three titles are appropriately named: “Patience,” “Hardship” and “Holding On.”
“Bad things will happen. The trap we fall into is rooted in this false belief that this life is perfect — perfectly good or perfectly bad,” she said.
“In every bad situation we’re in, there is always something to be grateful for. With hardship, Allah also gives us the strength and patience to bear it.”