Boushra Y. Almutawakel: Pandemic Inspired Art
© Boushra Y. Almutawakel, This Too Shall Pass, Photograph, 2020
This pandemic has been a learning experience for all. It’s frightening taking hundreds of thousands of lives. We have had to quarantine, stay at home alone or with our families for months, stop physical contact even in some cases with our loved ones, we have had to observe social distancing, schools closing and e-learning instead of the classroom, stop visiting with others, going out to restaurants, or the mall, wear masks and gloves. It’s sad to see those that are inflicted with Covid-19 and in critical condition, suffer and die alone. Everyone is a possible target for this clever merciless virus. Everyone in the world has seemed to have been affected in one way or another. Whether through illness, death, the economy, air travel, etc. I am grateful my family and children are healthy and alive. I am grateful to be alive.
I have heard constant complaints at the inconvenience and difficulty of this pandemic. However as someone who is from Yemen, Yemen has been under attack of another type of pandemic for the past 5 years: war, indiscriminate bombing, starvation, famine, destruction, displacement, cholera, dengue fever, mass displacement, destruction of homes, schools, cultural sights and even hospitals, all as the world stood silent to this crime against humanity. Shortage of clean water, fuel, electricity, medical care, and so much My family lives there. Every day I worry about their safety.
The resilience of the Yemeni people is remarkable. It has made this pandemic and all that comes with it bearable….in fact compared to what the Yemeni people experience and have yet to experience with the pandemic, with limited access to hospitals and medical staff, their suffering it seems is never ending. It just breaks my heart.
So what if we have to wear a mask, stay at home, social distance, can’t shop or see our friends? At least we are safe with our loved ones and God forbid, should something happen, we have access to lifesaving medical care. In Yemen they do not. I titled this piece “This too shall pass,” for us, but not for my dear Yemen, not by far.
© Boushra Y. Almutawakel, This Too Shall Pass, Photographs, 2020
Boushra Y. Almutawakel was born in Sana’a, Yemen in 1969 and studied in the USA and Yemen, obtaining a BS/BA in International Business at the American University in Washington, D.C. It was during her time as a student, that she became interested in photography. On her return to Yemen in 1994 she continued developing her photographic work, participating in many group exhibitions. In 1996 she was a founding member of the Al-Halaqa in Sana’a, an artists’ group which created a space for discourse and exhibitions and forged links with international artists.
In 1998, Boushra became a full-time photographer, and some of her clients have included the United Nations, CARE International, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Social Organisation for Family Development, the National Institute for Health Education, The British Council, The French Embassy, the French Cultural Center, Yemen Today and many others, as well as various commercial and individual clients, while pursuing her own personal photographic projects. In 1999, she was honored as the first Yemeni Woman Photographer, with a number of other Yemeni women pioneers by the Empirical Research and Women’s Studies Centre at Sana’a University.
In 2001 Boushra won a World Studio Foundation Scholarship toward her study for a Diploma in Advertising Photography at the Portfolio Centre, Atlanta, USA, completing the program in 2002. She and her work have been featured and published in Yemen Times, Yemen Observer, Yemen Today, Artasiapacific Almanac 2011, El Pais, Muse, Yo Donna, De L”air, Beaux Arts, Photo, Connaissance des Arts, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia Art, The Guardian, and Punctum. Her work has also been featured in the web magazine Nafas Art Magazine and photo blogs such as 500 Photographers, Greater Middle East Photo, Mrs. Deane, The Rachel Maddow, Slate’s Behold photo blog, Culturfphiles, and the New Yorker’s Photo Booth, New York Times Photo Blog, the International Museum of Women, among others.
Boushra worked as a consultant on cultural affairs for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington (2002-3). From 2005-2006 she worked at the Ministry of Human Rights in Sana’a, focusing on women’s issues, while also pursuing her photography.
Her work has been acquired by the British Museum in London, The Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, the Barjeel Foundation, as well as by other well known collectors. She currently lives in Dubai with her husband and their four daughters.