Karimah Hassan, The Strangers Yearbook (2020 - 2021)
Artist Karimah Hassan spent most of 2020 painting portraits of people she had never met - creating a global community of strangers.
Using Instagram as a platform to connect with people during the first UK Lockdown, Karimah asked her audience the simple question “How are you feeling?” Participants sent her a selfie and an answer in response, which she then painted. She received very honest responses from people across all walks of life including NHS doctors, cancer survivors and refugees on the run. Despite the wide variety of narratives, Karimah found a deeply personal connection to each person’s confession. Her one-a-day sketchbook painting was an immediate expression of Karimah’s response to the image and words of each subject, capturing highly personal responses.
Karimah Hassan said: “By asking people how they feel I’ve realised that we have so much more in common than we realise. I went into this project without expectations, and as this year continued to unfold it became more and more important to document the public’s reactions. Many of us feel shame about our emotions - we feel bad about feeling good, and bad about feeling bad – you can’t win. Shame is causing us to hide our true feelings and therefore stunt our ability to connect deeply. I’ve learnt that despite the rhetoric, it is in fact possible to establish genuine connections online.”
All profits on the sales of The Strangers Yearbook will go to two of Karimah's favourite charities, both directed at supporting young creatives in the UK and Internationally.