The Sanctuaries | Washington, DC

Collective Artists

Nouf Bazaz

 Photograph: Dejah Greene

Photograph: Dejah Greene

Artist Statement

I am interested in the art of storytelling and the power of stories to transform and liberate the self. My own story is deeply shaped by my experiences with individuals and communities that have endured personal and collective violence. As a counselor, I continuously bear witness to trauma and am in awe of the healing process that unfolds in part through storytelling. My scholarly work also explores the psychology, politics and ethics of storytelling.

Through mediums including painting, embroidery, poetry, theatre and more, I draw upon themes of war, migration, trauma, survival, strength and the beauty within us and around us. Like any story, my art involves an intricate process of layering – a layering of experiences, narratives, words, colors and mediums. It is a reflection of stories that have been passed down to me and of stories that surround me. Over the years, I have worked with refugees, women in conflict zones, incarcerated males, girls who have been sexually trafficked, indigenous women and more. My art is as much a personal reflection as it is part of a wider revolution.

To Joy, with Love

Collaborative Poem

This poem, a collaboration with fellow Collective artist Jojo Donovan, arose from our conversations around reclaiming joy. 


Acrylic on Canvas

In Defense of Kashmiri Man

Spoken Word Poem, performed with Osa Obaseki

Presumed guilty by birth
As a child, suspect
Where is your father?
Does he come at night?
Tell us
Does he carry a gun?
Tell us

Mother beaten and dragged
Sister stripped down and pinned down
Copper wire strung through his penis
Screaming through electric shocks
A cocktail of sweat, urine and blood

Another year, hundreds more
Shot down in the streets
Beaten and blinded
Where are you going?
What were you doing last night?
Tell us
Were you throwing stones?
Tell us

We cry, women and children
Are among the dead
Brightly clothed and bound
Not deserving to die
What about man?
Man is a monster
Not like the sages before him
He is a savage

Kashmiri man
Presumed guilty,
Until presumed dead

The Sanctuaries