From America to Kurdistan and Back Again: Nuveen Barwari
Nuveen Barwari grew up wandering allies of fabric markets with her mother in Duhok, the Kurdish region of Iraq. At the time, the two would gather the material for her mother to drape Kurdish dresses, but now the experience has a whole different meaning for Barwari as a graduate student.
“In a sense, now looking back, it was somewhat like a gallery for me. It was an affordable gallery where I could go ‘I like this piece of fabric’ and buy it.”
Her current artistic practice incorporates Kurdish textiles or language with iconic American products to portray her upbringing as a third culture kid.
Barwari was born in Nashville as the daughter of Kurdish immigrants. Her family moved from the States to Duhok as Barwari was entering the 6th grade, and later moved back to Nashville at the end of her junior year in high school.
“I was in Kurdistan long enough that I was adapting to the culture and my life there, so when it was time to move back to the States, I felt like I was starting all over again.”
Although she was readjusting cultures again, Barwari was able to keep a part of Kurdistan through exchanges she made with her relatives abroad.
“There’s this constant cultural exchange when family goes to Kurdistan and gifts me with a piece of fabric when they come back, or family living there will send me fabric, I will send them Hot Cheetos. So a lot of the fabrics I use are from Kurdistan and have traveled a distance.”
A part of her artistic practice includes her business, FuFu Creations, a fashion outlet Barwari established to mix her abilities to make screen printing designs with her third-culture kid aesthetic.
“It all start with aşîtî logo which means peace in Kurdish, and the sun that has 21 rays which can be found on the Kurdish flag,” Barwari said. “I quit my job and put a lot of my money into a really nice website and materials. It became an online shop and I was getting so much support.”
The business took off in 2018 when Barwari was asked to be a part of Kurdistan’s first fashion week. Her collection, ‘Peace,’ consisted of t-shirts bearing the logo for Fufu Creations and sharwal, a loose fitting trouser commonly worn across Asia.
Due to her international background and the recognition she’s garnered, Barwari has shipped work to all across the world.
“I’m trying to give my audience a view of my perspective, this is how I see things. I feel that everyone who wears it or sees it is a part of this bigger conversation and wherever you are people can ask ‘what does that writing say?’ and it gives people the opportunity to talk about Kurdistan, who the Kurds are, and highlight their struggle. Especially because Western media does not do a great job of depicting poorer parts of the world.”