Malaysian artist with autism wins Asian frontliner-themed poster contest

Wan Jamila Wan Shaiful Bahri (aka Artjamila) posing in her home studio with her prize-winning artwork 'Our Heroes Series 1'. Photo: Artjamila

17-year-old Wan Jamila Wan Shaiful Bahri, an artist with autism, has won first place in a poster-making contest organised by Artdialogo Asia in collaboration with Kazakhstan-based The Children Are Painting The World Social Fund.

She is known professionally as Artjamila, a self-taught painter who has developed a distinctive personal style with intricate patterns and detail based on her own experiences and observations.

In keeping with the competition theme "A Salute To All Frontliners Around The World", Artjamila’s acrylic on canvas piece, which is titled Our Heroes Series 1, offers a glimpse into how frontliners are working tirelessly around the clock to help contain the outbreak.

“Many have commented that her painting, which portrays the relentless hard work of frontliners, have touched them emotionally. One of her followers online said, ‘So glad... art is her language to the world... and it is poetry.’ I am very proud and happy that she won the competition. This achievement will certainly be a boost for her to continue making art, ” says her mother Noorhashimah Mohamed Noordin, 58.

Also read: Teen artist with autism, Wan Jamila, finds her voice through art

Artjamila's 'Our Heroes Series 1' (acrylic on canvas, 2020). Photo: ArtjamilaArtjamila's 'Our Heroes Series 1' (acrylic on canvas, 2020). Photo: Artjamila

At this time of the year, Artjamila is usually busy, especially with Autism Awareness Day and related events in April.

But with art exhibitions and other programmes either postponed or cancelled for the year, she has shifted her focus to online art exhibitions instead.

This poster-making contest was the first competition she joined this year. She walked away with the prize under Category B, which is open to participants ages 13 to 19. There are four other winners in this category, from South Korea, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and the Philippines.

During the movement control order (MCO) period, Jamila has taken part in several other international competitions and is currently working on a larger art piece on the history of the coronavirus.

“She has been keeping busy with her art during this time. She watches the news every evening and we keep up to date on the coronavirus situation. It is important that she understands what is going on and why we can’t spend time outside as we used to, ” says Noorhashimah.

The winning artworks of this poster-making contest will be exhibited digitally and published on the Facebook pages of Artdialogo Asia and The Children Are Painting The World Social Fund as part of the Healing The World Together Campaign, which will be launched May 8.

Check out her work at or Facebook and Instagram: @artjamila.

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