The Artists

Wael Abu Yabes

Wael Abu Yabes

My parents were displaced from Al Kabo village, Jerusalem in 1948. I was born in Bethlehem in 1988 and have lived in the Dheisheh refugee camp since. I have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and hope to get my master’s.

I started drawing in school and continued as a hobby because it was my main escape from the turmoil around me. My parents were reluctant to let me study art because of the lack of jobs in the field, but I persisted and now it’s my career.

Art is a nonviolent way of telling our unheard stories to the world, and colors express our suffering on a deeper level than words could ever convey. I emphasize colors to express my enduring heartache as a Palestinian refugee living in a camp where I can see my displaced village from afar, now an illegal settlement that I am not allowed to visit. I focus on children as I imagine myself as a child who lives inside the camp walls and sees things that people from the outside do not see. I want to show how this affects young Palestinians who endure relentless psychological trauma from being confined by walls and constantly harassed by the Israeli army and settlers. When I was a child I painted a lot of seascapes because I longed so badly to see the sea, something that is very difficult for Palestinians in the West Bank to do as a result of Israeli restrictions on our movement.