It’s a story that is shocking, compelling and ultimately inspiring.
Awer Bul was born in Sudan in the 1980s. A lack of traditional art supplies did not deter his childhood ambition to create; instead, he used the mud walls of his home as a canvas, creating masterpieces with his young hands. This art-as-therapy formed the foundation of a life-long passion for the creative process and a strong will to survive beyond the atrocities of civil war in Southern Sudan. Bul fled to Kenya in 1994, living in the wild as one of countless “lost boys,” and it was there that his creativity unfolded.
Bul was living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp when his talent was discovered. Undeterred by his lack of English-language skills, he communicated instead through his artwork, unfurling the horrors of war and eventually gaining the attention of the United Nations. Bul was granted the right to relocate as a refugee and arrived at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls in Richmond, Virginia in 2000.
He quickly assimilated into American culture, eventually graduating with honors from J.R. Tucker High School in 2004. An art major, Bul will graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University in the spring of 2008.
Awer Bul continues to express himself through his art, and in the summer of 2006 he returned, armed with art supplies, to the refugee camp where he had lived as a boy. Sadly, he saw that very little had changed since his childhood as a “lost boy.” He promised the refugees that he would not forget them, and he plans to build a school in Sudan to give the forgotten youth a chance at a better life.
Bul founded the Awer G. Bul Art Mission, an organization designed to finance education for young people living in refugee camps. He sells his paintings and the artwork of refugees to help finance his effort; he also lectures extensively on his own experiences as well as the plight of Sudanese refugees.
Hear Bul’s story unfold as he shares his journey from the horrors of war and his depiction of it through artwork, to his eventual relocation to Richmond, Virginia. Bul’s lecture, “How Art Saved My Life,” will take place on February 19, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. in Old Chapel, Room 212.
This event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the First-Year Experience program. For more information, contact Debbie O’Dell at 804-412-1559 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org