The self-portrait project stretched over a period of five months and involved nourishing the children visually through observation, mirrors, artworks, drama and mime, and sketching. During the course of the project, collective and individual interviews were conducted with the children that included questions about their lives, dreams, fears, love, hate, hopes, sadness and happiness. The children then implemented their final visual expressions with different materials and techniques, achieving rich and fascinating results.
How it all began...
During the summer of 2000 the GKCF decided to work on a self-portrait project with children aged 5 to 6 and a small group of older, mentally disabled children. The subject, both educationally and artistically, is not new, but nevertheless of great visual, psychological and emotional importance because it deals with identity. The main aim of the project was for the children to express, visually and verbally, their self-perception and their perception of, and identification with, the world they live in and interact with. The children participating in this project all attend the Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation's kindergartens in six different Palestinian refugee camps, suburban and rural areas in Lebanon.
The title of the book is a simile by one of the children, Alaa Al-Asaad, expressing a feeling of extreme eagerness and happiness. Throughout the project, the children's eagerness for observing, experimenting and expressing themselves, was inspirational. Therefore the title of the book had to be, as these wonderful children are, Like Roses in the Wind.
The initial idea was to exhibit the children's work, but we also felt that this experience should be documented in book form to offer a testimony to the existence and identity of fourth generation Palestinian refugee children.
On the 31st of January 2003, the book Like Roses in the Wind: Self Portraits & Thoughts was introduced in Beirut, where the children's self portraits and their interviews were on exhibit. Fifteen of the young artists were present and ready to sign the book, which were bought by the many visitors. It was a very successful event with over 200 visitors. All proceeds from the sale of the book went to support the Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation's projects and activities.