February 2019 | By Joe Snell | Photos by AUAF
CHICAGO — Winners of the second annual Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation’s (AUAF) fine arts competition were announced on Jan. 27 at a formal ceremony hosted in the organization’s Nineveh Hall.
The theme of this year’s international fine arts arts competition was “Awakening”. Assyrians aged 18 or older were invited to submit original pieces in any two-dimensional medium excluding photography.
Submitted artwork was judged by an independent panel of jurors. Three cash prizes were awarded, including $5,000 for 1st place, $3,000 for 2nd place, and $2,000 for 3rd place.
Assyrian artist Agnes Ishak took home the first place prize. Ishak graduated from the Institute of Technology in Baghdad and currently practices art in New Zealand. Her art spans different abstract art techniques and styles.
“The awakening theme was overwhelming for me,” said Ishak, who attempted three paintings before settling on her final piece. “The winning piece I loved, and it is an accumulation of my belief in the past and present.”
Ishak completed the “Awakening” piece in acrylic for speed so she could complete the many layers and transparent colors on the top layers. She then finished the artwork with oil colors to give the piece depth. She also included a gold leaf for the Assyrian head to reflect Assyrian divinity.
“An art competition is wonderful regardless of winning because we can build a list of artists who can serve and artwork that can reflect who we are and challenge ourselves,” she said.
The winners are as follows:
Honorary Mention (5th Place): Aeluna Nissan (Auckland, New Zealand)
Honorary Mention (4th Place): Nahrin Malki (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Third Place: Maher Minyanish (Chicago, IL)
Second Place: Qais AL-Sindy (El Cajon, CA)
First Place: Agnes Ishak (Auckland, New Zealand)
After every painting, Ishak writes a short text explaining the piece. Here is her text for “Awakening”:
From there and here.
From the core of history.
That has no limits.
All mimic a people from that aura that existed before existence.
In the beginning is the “Word”
And at all times.
And the “Word” carved upon every rock in the
A body of pillar rose from the “word “.
“God” blew in it his holy spirit.
Then the “word” became….
Blood, nation, structure and name…
An Arrow of light..
Stretched across the atmosphere.
To the core of Heaven and Earth.
To the “word”.
To dive in ourselves
To find what has been embodied in us.
But is in a state of hibernation
Calling for Awakening.
Calling for Stability.
Founded in 1978, AUAF is a non-profit organization that works across social services, humanitarian relief efforts, as well as educational and cultural programs. They work to serve as a bridge between Assyrian traditions across generations in the hopes of building a stronger, more connected community.