In our pursuit of inclusion and belonging, we invited five local artists to share the stories of five incredible members of the KPMG team through their artwork, conveying the storytellers' unique backgrounds and experiences.
Sharing your whole self is courageous and personal storytelling breaks down barriers. KPMG is built upon a mosaic of different people's perspectives and experiences, and these pieces are just the beginning of the whole story. Tell us how these stories impact you!
Are you ready to inspire?
Lion in a Field of Flowers
Lion in a Field of Flowers is an illustration inspired by the life of Irshad Abdulla. It represents a symbolic portrait of Irshad's strong and courageous personality, hidden beneath his calm and collected voice. My goal was to illustrate a scene that juxtaposes Irshad's fierce dedication alongside his calm and gentle approach to life. I envisioned a lion; a strong and fearless creature that wanders peacefully through the flower fields of Namaqualand. I wanted to depict a timid and graceful Lion, who despite its ferocious and dominating nature, chooses to be at peace amongst the soft and delicate foliage and leaves them all unharmed. I was deeply moved when I heard Irshad's story and the commitment he had taken for his work and his family. Being an immigrant myself, I felt immense pride and joy in hearing how we overcame discrimination and an inferiority complex as someone who came overseas to work in a foreign country.
Telling your own story and the honest version of your story takes a lot of courage and vulnerability. I want to make sure in my illustrations, I do justice to the story they are trying to portray.
Fractured is an insightful painting about Ryan Martin. The artwork is Influenced by Albrecht Dürer, a German Renaissance artist who experienced paranoid thoughts and painted images of melancholia, Sandra tried to show the multiple dimensions of Ryan-- the fracturing, fragmentation, and implosion of one's life and personality with mental illness and it's darker elements but also the courage, hope, inspiration, and beauty that springs forth from him through his visage, his words, his humanity, and his actions. This artwork celebrates his strength and resilience and his ability to give back through helping others.
People with mental illness, such as myself. It's an invisible illness – it's not like you have a cast or crutch people can see. It's behind that façade... a lot of people did not know that I was ill throughout parts of my life.
Finding the Way
Finding the Way is an acrylic paint and birch bark artwork that draws on ideas of moving forward to learn about one's lineage. Finding the Way is meant to capture the solitude that is required to center oneself. In that moment of stillness, we can feel the air, water, and earth, and find our balance. Here we can often find the answers we are looking for. When we look at what divides us, we can also see our similarities – much like a reflection. The birch bark symbols, placed in the four directions, are to hold space for the generations of beings that came before us, and to remind us of the answers and the histories that their memories hold.
When I think about stories, I think of stories like a tree and a tree that has roots. These roots make up our histories and so when you hear people's stories, you're hearing their history. And in that way, there's reciprocity.
The piece titled "Charlene" was created not only as a celebration of Charlene Owuor but of all Black women. I wanted to honour how Charlene presented herself visually to the world, as a means of celebrating the Black women that came before both Charlene and I that created things like braiding practices, patterned fabrics, and intricate jewelry. The attention to detail in this piece depicts the labour involved in creating the piece, intended to show care and love in the name of Black womanhood. This artwork intends to be a celebration and an opportunity to uplift Charlene and her Blackness. My work focuses on how Blackness can be understood and celebrated through art, in all its complexities and intricacies. I use my practice as a means of bringing Black experience into the historically colonial art world and to understand what it means to be stolen people on stolen land.
When you listen to people's stories, you can find that you can relate to them in some way or another. When you listen to one another's stories, we can find kinship and community within them.
A blossom in the desert
The inspiration for Shen Lo's portrait came from the childhood stories from her move from Taichung, Taiwan to Arizona, United States. In the illustration, I have incorporated elements that represent her past. The Grand Canyon National Park and Saguaros symbolize her journey in Arizona, while the national flower of Taiwan, Plum Blossom, and the Sun Moon Lake Temple — Wenwu Temple in Nantou symbolize her journey in Taiwan. The plush blossom is close to her heart because this represents that no matter how far away she is from her motherland, it will always be the root of her heart, soul, and culture. I have decided to illustrate the contrasts between Arizona and Taiwan using different textures, like rocks, cacti, and mountains, compared to the gentle and softness of plum blossoms and the Wenwu temple. I wanted to illustrate the diverse experiences that Shen gained from the various places.
There's a lot of stories out there that we never get a chance to listen to. I want to transform those stories into illustrations, so all of us can experience it from a different point of view.