I once again visited the home of visual artist Sabah Selou Wazi, to discuss his work with the Chaldean Cultural Center. I’ve been familiar with Sabah’s work for over a decade, and wrote about it in my book Iraqi Americans: The Lives of the Artists.
Sabah was born in the town of Alqosh and moved to Baghdad with his family at age seven. He says that he knew from the time he could talk that he wanted to be an artist. At the age of seven, he used the razor of a pencil sharpener to make skinny figure stick carvings on chalk. While it was his dream to study at Baghdad’s Institute of Fine Arts after high school, he knew he could not because, during that time, one had to be a Baathist or have two letters of recommendation from Baathists in order to enroll, so he went into the army instead and served from 1973 to 1974 in the civil war between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish government. He left Iraq in 1977, first going to Perugia, Italy, then touring different parts of Europe until he came to the United States in 1979.
Read about Sabah and other great Iraqi American artists in this book: