Artist Meli Huszar
Tells Us Her Story
We met Meli at the World Wide Art Show at the LA Convention Center
and in our conversation realized that for Meli,
telling her story is much more than promoting her art.
Meli learned how to use her art as a form of therapy and with her passion
for life, love and her family has survived through abuse, War and ridicule.
Meli’s story should remind us all to give thanks, not only this November
but everyday for the blessings we have.
I was born on the 27th February 1966. I was the third born daughter of a poor family in Bosnia. After my birth another 4 siblings were born. Very early I had to be a grown-up. As I was one of the three oldest children, I had to take care of the younger ones, cook, work and go to school. But also the situation at home was not the best. Almost daily there were fights. My father, who was living the hard live of a homeless in his young years, let all his anger out on us kids. He was the only one working so we had almost no money. He was even abusing his wife. She was not allowed to speak nor was she allowed to defend herself. As a young girl I would crawl into a corner and cover my eyes and ears. But every time I think back to that time the only thing coming to my mind are my mother’s stifled whimpers. We kids had to work in the fields, harvest and take care of the cows. „If you want to eat you have to work“, this were the words of my father back then.
I had no time to play with other kids. I had to drag firewood, charcoal and potatoes through the woods to survive. Our parents never had any laudatory words for us. I hauled kilos over kilos on the fragile body of a little girl. We were never spared or protected. Yet I never let negativity dominate my life. Every single minute I had for myself I spent on drawing. Since we had no money for painting colors I used earth and dirt to paint. The biggest inspiration for me has always been our world. The nature, all the animals, insects and trees. Even in school I was the best in art. My paintings were always selected as the best in our school.
But at home life was dark and gloomy. The brawls took no end. The worst fear of a child during this fights, is seeing its mother dying and not being able to do anything. The feeling that my father gave me made me think that I was a burden for my family. Due to all this mental abuse from home I started to feel ashamed for being alive. It was bad that we had no money but it was even worse that we children were denied the parental love. Despite all this or even because of this we siblings always stuck together. We were one and maybe that was the reason we survived.
With my brothers and my cousins
After elementary school my talent was discovered by my arts-teacher who sent me straight to the Art club of our school. There my paintings were published in our student’s newspaper and I could participate in competitions. My biggest wish was to get the chance to visit a University of Art but even back then I knew that this would never happen because we would never have enough money for that. In school I was one of the best students but I had almost no friends. I was very silent. I always hated violence, animal cruelty and polluting our environment. I never liked to talk about people behind their backs. I always thought that everyone deserves to lives. It doesn’t matter if you are a human-being or an ant. There is space for all of us.
I (top right) with school colleagues
The good thing about my father was that he always wanted his kids to be well educated. This is why I went to an Upper secondary college in technical professions there I was trained as a geotechnologist. My dream of studying art never came true because we simply didn’t have enough money and I would have never been brave enough to ask my dad for this. In school I was exposed to hate between religions. I lived in former Yugoslavia. There lived primarily Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosnians. The hate against us Muslims was huge. In school I was excluded and graded stricter than others. I always was pretending as if it wouldn’t matter to me but in reality it made me sick. Why are people worthless due to their religion? This never made any sense to me at all.
After I successfully graduated from this school my dad wanted me to marry a man I didn’t love. He wanted to get rid of me, so he would have more money. My world collapsed. How could I spend my life with a man I could never love? This evening we were visited by our relatives from Croatia. My aunt realized what was going on so she decided to take me with her to Dubrovnik. My dad was okay with that. In Dubrovnik I would be working and so I could send him money.
And that is exactly what happened. I was working in a hotel in Dubrovnik. Everything I earned I had to send to my family. But my father never called to ask how I am. Even though I was crying all the way to Croatia I still was happy to be here, to be away from home. But very quickly shocking news reached me. My youngest sister, who got married with only 17 years, left her husband and was back at my parents place. At that time this was a great shame for the whole family. I knew that my sister would have to go through a lot. So I went to bring her with me to Dubrovnik so she wouldn’t have to go through all this torment.
I as a young lady in Dubrovnik
So we both worked in a hotel. Month for month we sent money to our father. We had to fight our way through life. We took food from the hotel to have something to eat. But even this fairly peaceful life came to a quick end. One day the hotel director called me to his office. He was an elderly man but from the way he looked at me I could tell what he wanted from me. “I want you to be my lover”, these were his words. I refused to only think about that. I left his office without a single word. Since this day he was chasing and observing me. It was getting worse with every day. With a heavy heart I decided to leave the hotel. But I had to do it secretly. I knew my sister would have come with me, but I didn’t want her to leave. She was young and she was able to make a good living in Dubrovnik. So I started to pack my suitcase and write my goodbye-letter. I remember my tears smudging my writing as they floated down my cheeks. It broke my heart thinking of her coming home and finding this letter. I didn’t want to leave her alone but I had to. So I went back home.
Back at home little riots were noticeable. A war threatened to break out. A war between Croats, Serbs and Bosnian people. And again I was forced to leave my hometown. I went to Germany. I worked in a restaurant as illicit worker. Soon immigration authority was aware of me. So I had to go back to Bosnia.
In Germany with colleagues
There people started to get ready for the war. Everywhere people spread hate speeches about religions. Just three months later war started. Dreadful things were going on. Fathers were forced to rape their own daughters. My dad wanted me to go as far away as I could. So I packed my stuff and went to Austria. There a warmhearted woman gave me a place to work, but again I was an illicit worker. Soon I caught the eye of a man. He was tall, strong, had black hair and a heart made of gold. His name was Walter. We immediately got along very well. But then suddenly immigration authority caught me and they took me to the police station. There I had to tell them why I was here. I told them that I was here because I and Walter were getting married. Fortunately my story and the story of my husband were covering and so we were able to get married.
Walter (middle) as a young man
My brother, I and Walter at our wedding.
Celebration before wedding
My Mother-in-law (top left) and my husband’s uncle (bottom right) at our wedding
Getting ready for wedding
Soon after our marriage we got our first daughter. Almost two years later our second daughter was born. At this time there was still war in my home country. Throughout this time I was sending food parcels to my family.
For four and a half years I wasn’t able to visit anyone of my family in Bosnia. After this long time we travelled together to my home town for the first time ever. When we arrived there my family saw my kids for the first time. It was a breathtaking moment. Finally all of us were united. Luckily no one of in my family was suffering from serious damage. Still they had hardly any money to survive.
Back in Austria I gave birth to my last and third daughter. I had to collect clothes for my family in Bosnia. Every year we travelled to Bosnia with a full trunk. We bought clothes, shoes and food for them. No one from my family has lost his house, but still the economical situation was more than bad. There were no workplaces and the economy of the country was destroyed. I was very bothered and tried to help my family as best as I could.
My parents in Bosnia
Family in Bosnia
But even in Austria concerns were waiting for me. My husband’s uncle was diagnosed with cancer. This was very hard for all of us. He was a spare father for my husband, a spare grandfather for my kids and for me he was a spare father in law. For me this time was depressing but I never showed it to anyone. I took care of him but seeing him suffer made me anxious. Very soon he lost his battle to cancer. Just some years after this my mother-in-law was also diagnosed with cancer. And again I had to go through this hell. Her cancer was in the final stage so the doctors were not able to do anything for her. She was sent home so she could spend her last days with us. I pretended that she is going to be fine again so she would not lose her hope. One day the cancer hit her really bad and we had to take her to the hospital. This was the last time we saw her alive. The next day we got a phone call. She as well had lost the battle. I thought I could manage all that stress and the fear. I thought that I was strong enough. But I wasn’t. I started to develop a huge fear inside of me. And I slipped further and further into a bad depression. I spent a lot of my time in hospitals, because I was making myself ill. I went from doctor to doctor. No one could help me so they decided to get me an appointment at a psychologist.
She told me to express my feelings on paper. So I went home and started to draw. When I showed her my drawings she was overwhelmed. She told me that I was a great talent and that I should not give up on my talent. Since this day I never stopped painting and with every day I felt better and better.
Some of my first drawings
In 2006 I decided to take some art classes with a friend of mine. At our first class our conductor gave us homework. All of us should draw something at home and present it at the next class. So I draw a full body drawing of a man. When I showed it to our conductor she started yelling at me. “You are not supposed to draw things like this. This is something people draw after three years of practicing.” After this I decided not to visit any art classes. I met another artist from my village. She organized an exhibition for me. After this exhibition she didn’t want to talk to me again. Even my friend from the art classes broke contact with me. I don’t know what it was that made them turn their backs upon me. And I will probably never know.
As everything went fairly well, I was struck by the next stroke of fate. My husband, who went to hospital because of a surgery, struggled with death. He was 8 weeks in a coma in the ICU. The doctors had made a mistake and told me that he is going to die. Every night I went to sleep ridden by fears. The ringing of the phone gave me the creeps. Every second I was waiting for the hospital to call me and tell me that he is dead.
With luck and a hard fight I managed that he was transferred to another hospital. There the doctors treated him right and finally I could see him getting better. After nine months he came home from Hospital. In a wheelchair. He had forgotten everything and he had to relearn to walk. I had to give up my Job because he needed 24 hour nursing. Even today he has to regularly see his doctors. I know that he is never again going to be the man I have married but I still love him.
Walter (fourth from right ) before surgery
I and Walter after surgery
Some might say my life story is tragically but not me. Without those things that happened to me I wouldn’t be who and what I am today. People say that if they look at my paintings they feel like crying, because a lot of my works are dark and gloomy just like the rain. But I know that after every storm there is a rainbow. That’s the reason why people also see hope and comfort in my paintings.
Our World Destroyed by Human Hands
Everything Our World Needs
All the bad things in my life made me grow. I want to help people. For me there are no black people, white people or homosexuals. No. For me there are only human-beings. What language you speak, what religion you have, where you come from is negligible to me. What matters are your thoughts, the way you act. We decide who we are. I am dreaming of a world without hate. A world with people who love each other, who are helping one another. That we people care for our world.Furthermore I have been expressing my feelings through my paintings. I’ve been always worried what my family is going to think about my art, but today I don’t really care anymore. I have started to recognize who my real friends are. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t want me to be
successful but I don’t give credit to them anymore.
I know some might say dreams are meant to be dreamt but I know that dreams are here to be lived.
To contact Meli send your inquiry to us at firstname.lastname@example.org