Ahmed Hmeedat grew up in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. He has a bachelor’s degree in Human Rights and International Law from Al Quds Bard Honors College, though his passion has always been art.
At thirteen, he and his friends would draw on the walls of the refugee camps (“we wandered the streets of the camps looking for the perfect scene to capture”). Ahmed is a self-taught artist who experiments with different media, including watercolors, acrylic, oil, ink, and charcoal.
I buy art supplies when I travel abroad, as it’s difficult to find good supplies in the West Bank. Shop owners have to import them from Europe, which means extra taxes to both the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority. The extra taxes increase the price of the supplies, and most artists can’t afford those prices.
My art expresses the plight of the refugees and reminds people that the Nakba is an ongoing reality for us. It’s important for me to show the world that Palestinian refugees strongly believe in their right to return to their homeland. Even when the elders pass away, the younger generations still remember the suffering of their ancestors.
As a refugee who lives under occupation and restricted movement, I’ve learned to adapt to the reality around me and express myself with limited means. Art helps me to interpret the complexity of our situation into a simpler form that everyone can relate to. For example, I’ve created murals in the refugee camps in Bethlehem commemorating Palestinian leaders and activists who were killed by Israeli soldiers. These murals stand as a historical document and memorial, and they give comfort to victimized families, providing inspiration long after the death of these figures.