46” x 60”

Mixed Media on paper

Died Summer 2014  and Resurrected Summer 2015



2014 and 2105 Copyright Mary Mihelic, Artist.  All rights reserved.

The text art “You only die once” is based on what one girl who escaped from a different set of kidnapped girls the Boko Haram captured said right before she got away.  The Boko Haram in charge of her group ordered her to cut a man’s throat.  She refused so his wife did it.  She was with five other kidnapped girls and after this occurred she asked them if they wanted to make a run for it, reminding them that “you only die once.”  They all agreed to go.  The girls then stole one of the terrorist’s cars and drove away.  They were chased and shot at by men on motorbikes and in cars. When they finally stopped to ditch the car and run, the three girls in the front seat noticed that the three girls in the back seat were all dead. 

In this artwork the gold stars symbolize education (since Boko Haram means western education is a sin).  They also represent bullets and are two-toned with a copper portion similar to some bullets.  The stars are framed around the girl in a halo form that outlines the body and is symbolic of the outline of a body used as target practice in shooting ranges. 

The original artwork was completed in the Summer of 2014 and put in a pile of dead drawings in the artist’s studio (of artworks she had killed).  It was then resurrected to be used for this artwork.  The phrase reflects on Christianity and the concept of resurrection which is under attack by the Boko Haram.  This is also a phrase used by ISIL to recruit young terrorists: they say “you only die once... why not make it martyrdom?” 

In addition, the gold leaf edge is derived from the ripped edges of paper torn out of a notebook.  It alludes to education as a solution to ending the cycle of violence.  It is about the transformative power of learning and education as alchemy.