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CAF MA Scholarship awardee 2016, Orna Kazimi: In Her Words

On a typical day in Kabul, my future changed by receiving an email saying that my application for the Caspian Arts Foundation MA award has been successful. The Caspian Arts Foundation Scholarship was a way for me to prove to the world that I am not only a dreamer but that I can reach all the things that I am working hard for.

It illustrates to me that my generation, who were born either as an Afghan refugee, like myself, or those who are living in Afghanistan and who are limited by their belief that they are held back due to their ethnic conflicts, really do have the power to go beyond the narrative portrayed by their geopolitics, identity and ethnicity.

Due to the legal constraints against Afghan refugees in Iran I was unable to study art at the local university, something I have always wished for. Hence, I studied natural resources in engineering whilst continuing to pursue my practice but I couldn’t allow these alternative studies to be my life story and end the dream to be an artist. So, I tried to exhibit my paintings in other countries hoping that it would speak to people and convince the art world that my story and my artworks do matter.

Now that I have received the Caspian Arts Foundation MA Scholarship in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins in London, I am finally on my way towards a path I have always strived for: to visualise my embodied knowledge through art, and in particular, sculpture. During the time I will spend as a student in London, I will take every opportunity to improve and develop my artistic skills in order to contribute my story to the art world which is a story from Afghanistan.

For me, hope is the most powerful thing. Hope can tackle politics, break through borders and end wars. Therefore, I think it is the best thing for us and for my generation who have lost their home of origin and are scattered all over the world, to keep working hard no matter where they are and how difficult their current circumstance might be.

Orna Kazimi received the Caspian Arts Foundation MA Scholarship in Visual Art in 2016. The scholarship is in partnership with Culture+Conflict and is funded by the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.