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Spring Will Come: About the Art

Artist Efvan’s portraits and vignettes of Uyghur life

The following interview is part of the Spring Will Come notebook.

This Nowruz, we have been showcasing work from the notebook “Spring Will Come: Writings from East Turkistan.” The notebook features poems and short stories by writers connected to East Turkistan, a region that borders at least ten countries, including Russia, India, Mongolia, and China. A site of tension and power struggle throughout history, this region has often been overlooked or misunderstood. It is also a place with a powerful and strong poetry and storytelling tradition, from nomadic oral epics to large online poetry salons. In this notebook, we sought to spotlight the literature and art of the region, as well as the people’s persistence that surfaces both in the work and the making of it.

For this notebook, we collaborated with Uyghur artist Efvan to share snippets of the people and life that are perhaps unfamiliar to the rest of the world. Efvan illustrates Uyghur children’s books and magazines produced in the diaspora, so her imagery felt at home in the notebook. We were drawn to how she played with nostalgia through simple, bright sketches that elicited a sense of hope and home.

Efvan also writes poetry—her poem “My Plea” is published in the notebook—and we were immediately enamored by her depiction of the frustration, anger, and sadness many of us have felt towards the world. The contrast between her poetry and her artwork also felt like a familiar fissure between the celebration of life and the darkness of reality. Still, we allow ourselves in all her work to see the little moments, people, and spaces that fill our memories, the things that the writers in this notebook dream to go back to some day.

Below is a short interview with Efvan about her process.


سىزنىڭ ئەسەرلىرىڭىزنى قانداق نەرسىلەر ئېلھاملاندۇردى؟

رەسىملىرىمنىڭ ئەڭ چوڭ  ئىلھامى  ئۇيغۇرلارنىڭ  مەدەنىيىتى، تۇرمۇشى، ھېكايىلىرى بەدىئىي تەسەۋۋۇرلىرى.

بۇ رەسىملەر بىلەن قانداق ھېسسىياتلارنى ئىپادىلىماقچى؟

رەسىم سىزىش ئارقىلىق مىللىتىمگە بولغان سۆيگۈمنى، ۋەتىنىمگە بولغان سېغىنىشنىمنى ئىپادىلەيمەن. شۇڭا ئۇيغۇرلارنىڭ  پوترېتيۈزلىرىنى، تۇرمۇش شەكلىنى رەسىملىرىمدە ئىپادىلەشكە تىرىشىمەن.

رەسىم سىزاش ئۈچۈن قانداق ئۇسۇللىرىڭىز بار؟

  بىر پارچە ئەسەرنى سىزىش ئۈچۈن ئەڭ ئالدى بىلەن تېمىگە ئالاقىدار فوتو سۈرەتلەرنى،   شەكىللەر ئېنىق ئىپادىلەنگەن ماتىرياللارنىئىزدەيمەن،   ئاندىن  فوتو سۈرەتلەردىن ئۆزۈم  سىزىشنى ئارزۇ  قىلغان بىر كۆرۈنۈشنى سىزىۋالىمەن. بىر پۈتۈن شەكىلنى سىزىۋېلىپ. ئاندىن رەڭلەرنى تاللايمەن. ئۇنىڭدىن كېيىن  رەسىمگە  بىرنەچچە خىل رەڭ بېرىمەن. ئەڭ ئاخىرىدا ئۆزۈم ياخشى كۆرگەن بىرىنن تاللايمەن.

What are your inspirations for these drawings?

My biggest inspirations come from Uyghur culture, lifestyle, stories, and literature.

What moments or emotions do you want to capture with these drawings? 

I want to communicate my love for my people and my longing for my homeland through my art. So I strive to draw portraits of Uyghur people and vignettes of daily life.

What sort of processes do you have for creating art?

First, I gather images that clearly connect to the theme I am working with. From these, I take in the components or scenes that I would like to draw. Once I have the drawing itself, I choose the colors to add. Then I create different versions of the drawing with different color palettes and choose the one I resonate with the most.