Duhok, Iraq – In happier times, Ammar Salim Khidhir dedicated much of his art to children, making larger-than-life statues of characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants from materials including sponge and silicone.
Gone are those days. Now, Khidhir sees himself on a historical mission to “document the calamity” of his Yazidi community at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The 31-year-old painter – who goes by the alias Ammar al-Rasam, Arabic for Ammar the painter – paints from early evening to dawn in the city of Duhok, located in Iraq’s Kurdish region. He is now working on his ninth painting depicting ISIL’s gruesome mass killing last June of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers based in the Speicher military camp near Tikrit in central Iraq. In this painting, the Tigris River’s water is reddened with blood.