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Young Turkish quake survivor overcomes trauma through art



A 15-year-old high school student from Türkiye’s Malatya, one of the 11 provinces greatly affected by the early February earthquakes, recently opened a painting exhibition at the temporary accommodation center, where she is sheltering with her family.

Çiğdem Iyem, who showed interest in painting since the age of 10, has opened an exhibition in the Teknokent accommodation center, which consists of 2,200 containers and offers shelter to more than 10,000 earthquake victims.

The young girl at the same time continues her education at the “Container City” education campus set in Malatya’s central Battalgazi district.

Recalling the moments of the powerful tremors, Iyem speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) said: “Waking up to (that) noise during the earthquake, the first thing that came to my mind was my paintings. I wanted to take them instantly, and as soon as we’ve taken them we went out from the home eventually.”

Iyem, who said she has a collection of some 3,000 paintings, noted they carefully picked the ones to display. She expressed that art has always been her primary interest and, in the face of the earthquake and the challenges it brought, it became something she held onto.

“We tried to move on by holding onto something. I painted this two or three days after the earthquake … Drawing has also become a part of my life, I do it constantly. I want to study as a art teacher and pursue an academic career in graduate school and university in the future,” she noted.


Kübra Benli, Çiğdem’s visual art teacher, praised her student’s talent and described her work as quite successful work for her age.

“She has a lot of talent. She wanted to open an exhibition, we supported her and we saw that she works in different styles such as geometric abstract, lyrical abstract, surrealist and portrait,” Benli said.

Looking ahead, she suggested that if Çiğdem continues her studies, she should consider pursuing a degree in fine arts at the university level, which would allow her to develop a more distinct artistic language and work more academically.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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