Malala Yousafzai, 2017
acrylic on canvas
30 x 24 in
The same enlightened twinkle Joan sees in Ram Dass she sees in Malala, who was 17 when she became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
“There’s something about her crooked little smile,” Joan says, basing her portrait on an image from the 2015 documentary “He Named Me Malala” by Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim.
In October 2012, Malala had already won the International Children’s Peace Prize for her blog about her fight to protect girls’ education in her native valley in northwest Pakistan when a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the neck, shoulder and head.
She was sent to Britain for treatment and after many surgeries and months of rehabilitation, she was discharged from the hospital in January 2013. When she made her first public appearance six months later, the United Nations declared it “Malala Day,” promising to dedicate it each year to relieving the plight of the world’s most vulnerable girls.
In 2017, Malala celebrated her 20th birthday, embarking on a six-month “Girl Power Trip” that took her to North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not,” she says. “It is the story of many girls.”