Mary Mihelic, Running Girls.

A series of 53 artworks about the Chibok kidnapped schoolgirls.

The Running Girl artworks are inspired by the courage of the schoolgirls who ran for their lives and escaped from the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria when they attacked their school and kidnapped their classmates.  On April 14, 2014, over fifty schoolgirls made that split-second decision to run for it.  So this series will comprise over fifty artworks of girls running.  Thirty-eight are completed.  

The term Boko Haram translated means western education is a sin and the group believes that women should not be educated; instead women should be used as cooks or sex slaves.   The art reflects on war under the guise of religion, religious freedom, education for women, and global feminism.  

Reports vary on the actual number of girls who got away; originally the number reported was 53 and then it changed to 57.  As a result, the series title “53 Running Girls” differs from the actual number of artworks being made.  This is symbolic of the chaos surrounding the kidnappings. The number of Chibok schoolgirls that were kidnapped is just as confusing.  Most reports say 276, but it is believed that number is higher since some parents didn’t report their daughters missing due to the stigma that would be associated with them.  For that reason, the exact number of artworks being created is undetermined.  

When the series began, in 2014, James Foley hadn’t been beheaded, the Boko Haram wasn’t allied with ISIL, Charlie Hebdo was still alive – and hundreds of thousands of people weren’t running from war and migrating to Europe.  NPR reported in 2015 that the Boko Haram killed more people than ISIL (6,644) making it the deadliest terrorist organization in the world. 113 of the girls are still missing.  Thousands of other girls are as well.  

The series has been featured in Artnet, The Brooklyn Eagle, The News Nigeria, The Broad Side, The Queens Tribune, The National Catholic Reporter, Artrubic, The Indian Muslim Observer (New Delhi), alldigitocracy, The Religion News Service, the OSBC (Nigeria), The Church Times (U.K.), NYC Aesthetic and more...  

In the artwork above, Running Girl 23, The text art “The Red Cross” is relevant since the organization was working to negotiate the release of all the kidnapped schoolgirls.  It references the cross, blood and war.    In addition, the “Nazarene” text refers to reports that ISIL is now painting N’s on houses where Christians reside in Iraq and Syria -- the N standing for Nazarene.

Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"



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