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Student Spotlight: Nuveen M. Barwari

Artists and designers often explore the concept of space by creating something special and unique where people feel that they belong. Nuveen M. Barwari, graduate student in the School of Art, is using her work to create an entirely new space—one that allows her to connect her homeland and her host land.

Barwari’s family was part of the first wave of Kurdish immigrants to Nashville in the 1970s, after the fall of the Kurdish rebellion against Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government. From an early age, she recognized that her heritage and family history made her different from her peers. “I often think back to the time when I told my classmates that my middle initial stood for Madison,” Barwari revealed. “It actually stands for Muhammad, but I was trying to fit in.”

Although born in Nashville, Barwari spent her youth growing up in both Middle Tennessee and Kurdistan, never really feeling like she completely belonged in either location. “I don’t entirely live in America, but I also don’t live in Kurdistan. So where do I live?” Barwari mused. To answer this question, Barwari’s art creates a fictive space that connects Kurdistan and America, combining traits of each while never fully residing in either.

Read more about Nuveen Barwari and the art being created in a spotlight article on UT’s Office of Research & Engagement page.