Young Malaysian painter with Down syndrome aims to aid earthquake victims

  • Arts
  • Wednesday, 22 Feb 2023

The ‘Maryam Saves A Heart Charity Art Sale’ will see 80% proceeds from each artwork from artist Maryam (right) channelled to Mercy Malaysia's fund to help earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. Photo: Sharifah Sarah

Young artist Maryam Khairul Anuar’s latest artworks are filled with flowers, vibrant splashes of colour and a whole lot of hope.

The 11-year-old prolific painter, who was born with Down syndrome, is showcasing these acrylic paintings in the "Maryam Saves A Heart Charity Art Sale" series, which aims to raise funds for earthquake victims and humanitarian efforts in Turkiye and Syria.

All 15 of these works are available for viewing on her social media channels, with eight artworks currently on display at Artistically Siti Gallery in Shah Alam, Selangor, as part of the "Rahmah 2023 - Kids’ School Holiday Art Exhibition And Charity Fundraising Sale".

She also has a number of privately commissioned pieces that are part of this earthquake aid initiative.

Prices of artworks in the current "Maryam Saves A Heart Charity Art Sale" initiative range between RM1,000 and RM2,500 each, with a targeted fundraising sum of RM20,000. A total of 80% of proceeds will be channelled to Mercy Malaysia’s Earthquake Fund, with the remaining 20% allocated for Maryam’s future fund.

An artwork from Maryam Khairul Anuar titled 'Magical Night Sky' (2022). Photo: Maryam Saves A HeartAn artwork from Maryam Khairul Anuar titled 'Magical Night Sky' (2022). Photo: Maryam Saves A Heart

The artworks are created with brushes, sponge and finger-painting techniques. They will be on sale until March 4.

The outpouring of aid for the victims of the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria are not just from the Malaysian government that had extended aid, but also royalty, the business community and Malaysians at large.

For Maryam, who loves to paint in her studio and spread cheer to others, she is keen to help in any way possible.

“Maryam takes pride knowing that she can sell her paintings to help others in need. She finds joy in the whole process - from painting her pieces, uploading on social media, reading comments on social media, delivering her paintings and welcoming positive feedback and seeing how she has impacted other people’s lives,” says her mother Sharifah Sarah.

Maryam has been making great strides with her fund-raising efforts through her artworks.

The "Maryam Saves A Heart" campaign started in 2020 with her mother Sharifah and father Dr Khairul Anuar guiding and educating her with art classes and also giving her opportunities to exhibit and help community causes.

“It is important to us that Maryam is raised to be confident and positive despite her perceived disabilities as well as not being able to attend mainstream school. Firstly, we focused on nurturing her talent. We have also worked towards others acknowledging her talent so Maryam knows that her talents are appreciated.

"Secondly, we enable Maryam to use her talents for a good cause. We wanted to ensure that she does not feel sorry for herself or feel limited by her disability. Focusing on others’ needs and building empathy will drive her to improve her artistic talents as she knows that she can use this avenue to help others in a worse position than her. It builds a positive hero persona that shields her from feeling bad about herself,” add Sharifah.

To date, Maryam has raised more than RM200,000 for various charity causes in Malaysia with her paintings.

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