Wide angle aerial view of the majestic Diamond Head volcanic crater towering over the suburbs of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Art Wager / iStock

Hawaii celebrated a hard-earned milestone this past June: For the first time in state history, zero young women under the age of 18 were incarcerated. The achievement is the result of years of effort to transform the juvenile justice system — and the state’s only youth correctional facility along with it. 

The sprawling, 500-acre Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center sits at the foot of the lush green Olomana mountain in Oahu, Hawaii. There, Mark Patterson heads up the cause to provide a pu’uhonua, or “place of refuge” in Hawaiian, to its residents. In 2012, more than 100 juvenile offenders were living at the facility. These days, there are around 15, according to Hawaii News Now. Patterson stresses that the state’s achievement is by no means a stroke of luck. 

“When I talk about zero girls in the system, it’s because it was a conscious effort to focus on a particular profile of girls in our systems,” he told NBC News. He added: “We’re not saying that we’ve solved a social issue. We’re saying that the treatment and the system that we put together for care is working.”

That system for care involves shifting away from a punitive model and instead focusing on understanding the backgrounds of juvenile offenders, the vast majority of whom have experienced some combination of poverty, trauma, addiction, homelessness, and abuse, Patterson told newspaper Ka Wai Ola. It’s a move that builds on nearly two decades of action. 

In 2004, Girls Court was founded by Judge Karen M. Radius to “address the needs of Hawaii’s at-risk girls and female offenders and ensure that they are adequately considered in policy and programming.” Five years later, Hawaii was granted federal funding for Project Kealahou, a successful six-year, federally-funded program that focused on “improving services and outcomes” for at-risk girls. Then, in 2014, Hawaii passed Act 201, legislation intended to “reduce court referrals of youth, improve probation for justice-involved youth, and target community-based programs.”

That same year, Patterson was appointed as administrator for the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF). He partnered with the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice to analyze where girls were falling through the cracks, advocated for more funding, and incorporated a farming program to foster self-esteem. “When you actually work and till land and produce a product, and then eat it or provide for the community, there is a sense of worth of who you are and where you fit into the community,” he told NBC. In 2018, HYCF was renamed the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center, symbolizing the transformation in the facility’s culture. 

The June milestone is hopefully an indication of more progress to come, but until then, those who worked hard to make it happen are celebrating its arrival. “You’ve got to understand that people’s blood, sweat, and tears went into this moment,” Cathy Betts, director of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services, told The Washington Post. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

And the transformative work isn’t going to stop overnight either. “This is not a zero … everybody’s finished, we can go home,” Patterson said. “Now the question is sustaining zero.”

a person lies on their stomach on the ice to take a picture of a group of penguins in Antarctica
KeithSzafranski / iStock

Antarctica is the continent least visited by world travelers, and its frigid temperatures — with a daily interior average of minus 71 degrees Fahrenheit — make it uninhabitable for people long-term. Although the terrain isn’t suitable for humans, a delicate and complex ecosystem exists amid the ice, and now tourists who do make it to the South Pole can help preserve and study it by becoming citizen scientists during their stays. 

Despite being less frequented than other areas on Earth, Antarctica has seen its tourism rate more than double over the last decade, from 33,000 visitors per year to more than 74,000. Though still relatively few people in comparison to some of the world’s biggest cities — New York City alone welcomed 33 million last year — they can make a significant impact on the snow-covered environment. In addition to increasing pollution, tourists carry an average of 9.5 non-indigenous seeds across Antarctica per person, according to a 2012 study. Caution must be taken any time a foreign species is introduced to minimize any damage to endemic plant and animal species.

Andrew Peacock / iStock

And while the remote territory offers plenty of ecological research opportunities in theory, tourists far outnumber scientists on the continent, and sending fully-funded expeditions to hard-to-reach areas can be cost-prohibitive. 

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operations (IAATO) has a creative solution: it’s inviting visitors to help protect and study the South Pole by becoming “Antarctic Ambassadors.” In collaboration with local companies and partners, IAATO encourages visitors to partake in polar expeditions that are led by experienced naturalist guides. Some of the expeditions give tourists the opportunity to observe marine life, record data about plants and flowers, track animal behavior, and learn about local cultures. And recently, the organization introduced “Beach Clean-Up Bingo.” 

RELATED: New Study Uncovers How Penguins Became Oceanic Birds

“Instead of passively telling visitors about the research that goes on in Antarctica, we can get them to participate through citizen science programs,” Allison Cusick, a doctoral student studying biological oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explained to Mental Floss. “It’s an immersive experience.” Since 2015, she and her colleagues have recruited 4,000 visiting volunteers to help investigate how melting glaciers are affecting the phytoplankton population. 

redtea / iStock

Another project, called “Happywhale,” was spearheaded by the The Polar Citizen Science Collective, and asks visitors to help assist in tracking individual whales. Participants are encouraged to set their phones or cameras to local time while whale watching and snap photos of the cetaceans, then upload them to a website. Researchers can then identify the animals by their markings.  

If you’re eager to assist but don’t have an excursion to the South Pole on the horizon, you can still help scientists preserve Antarctica’s ecosystem. Aid researchers and enjoy some adorable viewing in the process by counting penguins right from your couch.  

The Apple logo on a glass at the Apple store at Catalonia Square (Plaza Catalunya) in Barcelona in a neoclassic architecture building.
Lobro78 / iStock

When graphic designer Rob Janoff first met with Steve Jobs in 1977, Apple Computer was still a seedling startup. Having been incorporated less than a year earlier, the company needed a logo to accompany the launch of its flagship product — the Apple II — at the West Coast Computer Fair. Janoff and fellow artist Carlos Pérez David were entrusted with the job. They understood the assignment — and ultimately helped create one of the most widely recognized brands on the globe today.

Based on examinations of cross-sections of real apples, Janoff created a bold, distinctive design: the rainbow-striped apple, with a big bite taken out of it. Jobs immediately approved the logo, now synonymous with the world’s most successful tech company, which is worth about $3 trillion today. Janoff then passed his concept to Pérez David, a junior designer at the same marketing firm, who illustrated the design by hand. 

“It was my job to make it distinctive, to make it stand out, and it did,” Janoff said in an interview with The Lucas Show.

“It’s a great feeling. I do feel very fortunate,” Pérez David told NBC in 2011 of his involvement in the design. 

The rainbow-striped apple emblazoned all the company’s products for 20 years and set the foundation for future logo variations. In 1998, the company swapped the rainbow stripes for a sleek, solid color as part of a brand overhaul before eventually transitioning to its present-day monochrome palette.

“One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge, bitten into, all crossed with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn’t dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope, and anarchy,” Jean Louis Gassée, an executive at Apple Computer from 1981 to 1990, said of his thoughts on the logo, according to Creative Bits.  

Why the bite mark? Janoff told the site it adds “scale,” making it unmistakably an apple, as opposed to another fruit, like a cherry. 

“Instantly, it had to say, ‘That’s an apple!’” said Pérez David in an interview with CBS News

The rainbow stripes, Janoff told Creative Bits, were a nod to the Apple II being the first personal computer “that could reproduce images on the monitor in color.”

Janoff is widely known for his role in the logo’s creation and has since worked with other major companies, including IBM, Kleenex, Diners Club, Kraft, SC Johnson, and AT&T, according to his website. 

Pérez David is renowned in the Bay Area and Latino community, CBS News reported, and has a place in the Mexican American Hall of Fame. But most people have no idea he helped create one of the world’s most famous logos. He told the publication he believes that’s partly because Latinos are often overlooked, and artists aren’t perceived as professionals. 

But he doesn’t let that stand in his way. 

“It gave me the life to get me where I’m at today,” he told the publication of his work. “It gave me that foundation, the roots of myself, and my culture, my family.”

Willem de Kooning stands in front of a workbench in his studio in 1982. He wears glasses and a blue shirt. He has white hair. The room is brightly lit.
Luiz Alberto / Images Press / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Willem de Kooning’s famed painting “Woman-Ochre,” estimated to be worth around $160 million, has had quite the journey over the years. On the morning after Thanksgiving Day in 1985, the artwork was ripped from its frame at the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA). It remained missing for three decades — finally resurfacing in New Mexico in 2017. Now, after a complex and arduous restoration process in Los Angeles, the beloved abstract-expressionist piece is finally returning home. 

The painting is thought to have been stolen by a retired married couple, a theory that emerged when it popped up at an antique shop that had acquired items from the pair’s estate after their deaths. It was badly damaged, but not enough to evade the eye of an astute customer who suspected its real worth and offered to buy it for $200,000, CNBC reports. 

Startled by the sum, and unaware that he was in possession of a world-renowned masterpiece, shop owner David Van Auker decided to investigate. After discovering details of the decades-old theft on the internet, he knew he had to contact UAMA. Curator Olivia Miller remembers overhearing the details of his initial call. “My coworker and I just stopped our conversation and looked at each other,” she shared in a Getty podcast interview. “She said, ‘are we going to remember this moment for the rest of our lives?’” 

Not wanting to get her hopes up too quickly, Miller asked Van Auker to provide pictures so she could confirm the identity of the piece. “Every time he sent a photo, we were getting more and more excited,” she recalled, adding, “he said that the painting had lines across it as if it had been rolled up.”

Once confirmed to be the real deal, “Woman-Ochre” was on its way back to the museum. But it wasn’t ready for display just yet — the next step was finding the right experts to restore the damaged painting. In what Miller referred to as “the absolute best scenario,” the Getty Conservation Institute (CGI) accepted the challenge, and the painting was sent to be rehabilitated in California.

Conservators began by analyzing de Kooning’s original materials, mapping the pigments through the use of Macro X-Ray Fluorescence technology, CNN reported. “Every single little paint flake that had lifted up when it was pulled from that canvas during the theft had to be set down under the microscope, in a very painstaking and time-consuming process,” Ulrich Birkmaier, a senior conservator at the Getty Museum, told the outlet.  

After years of detailed work, the restoration was complete. “Woman-Ochre” was exhibited at the Getty Center over the summer in a show entitled “Conserving de Kooning: Theft and Recovery.” Now, the painting is being prepared to take up residency in Arizona once again. Eager art lovers will be able to view the piece during a special exhibition at UAMA beginning October 8. 

“I’m just overwhelmed by the honesty and the goodness of the people who found the painting and who did the right thing, right away,” Miller told CNBC. “And that feeling is just as wonderful as having the painting actually back in the museum.”

An exterior view of the hammer museum, a small white building with green trim. In front, a huge hammer stands tall on the lawn. In the back, Alaska's rolling hills.
Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you had a hammer, you could hammer in the morning, as the old song goes. But what would you do if you had 10,000 hammers? You’d open a hammer museum, of course. At least, that’s what collector Dave Pahl did in his tiny town of Haines, Alaska. 

Small and unassuming — aside from the giant 19-foot-tall hammer standing in front of it — the Hammer Museum sits on a green lawn and features a backdrop of Alaskan mountains. Not to be confused with Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum, which exhibits art and is named after its founder, this one has a simple mission: to preserve the history of hammers.  

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“There’s something for everybody here at the Hammer Museum,” Pahl told Smithsonian Magazine, emphasizing the ubiquitousness and necessity of the household tool. “Everybody uses a hammer, but a lot of us don’t even realize how often, or where we’d be without it.”

More than 2,000 hammers are currently displayed, representing the long and storied journey the instrument has taken to your toolbox. Rock hammers believed to have helped build the Pyramid of Menkaure in Egypt, Native American mallets, a meat tenderizer from the 1940s, hammers bank tellers once used to cancel checks in the 1880s, and more line the walls of the four-room museum. Another 8,000 are kept in storage. 

After moving to Alaska in 1980 to become a homesteader, Pahl began collecting tools he needed to “live off the land.” Eventually, though, he found himself with far more hammers than any one man requires. “Family vacations were hammer hunting,” he said, adding that he “​​was getting a lot of pressure from [my wife] Carol to get some of these hammers out of the house. She was getting tired of dusting.” But Carol eventually got into collecting too, according to the museum’s website. Her personal collection of glass hammers is currently on display. 

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Considered the world’s first hammer museum when it opened in 2002, the shrine has since sparked similar iterations — one in Kentucky, another in Lithuania. In 2004, it became a nonprofit organization, even developing its own summer internship program, and Dahl has firmly established himself as an expert. A curator for the National Museum of American History once sought Pahl’s help in identifying hammers in the Smithsonian’s collections, Smithsonian reports, and the History Channel has reached out to inquire about the proper hammers to use in reenactments.

Pahl’s latest endeavor is the 200-page hammer “bible” he self-published in August, but he has blueprints for another idea that he’s constructing. Last month, he shared with Haines’ own Chilkat Valley News that he’s hoping to release a hammer day planner for 2023. “There’s a hammer for every day of the year,” he said.

an image of the paper microscope, blue and rectangular, laying flat
Foldscope Instruments, Inc.

It’s difficult to determine the world’s most expensive microscope — one powerful electron microscope cost $27 million to get up and running back in 2009 — but it may be easier to call out the cheapest. The Foldscope is made of paper and costs $1.75 to produce. Don’t let the low price point fool you, though; the 2022 Golden Goose award winner is an impressive feat of engineering and is making science more accessible the world over. 

It was affordability that inspired Stanford engineering professor and Foldscope co-creator Manu Prakash over a decade ago, according to an article published on the Golden Goose website. While studying infectious disease diagnostics in Thailand in 2011, Prakash began to consider how to improve testing for malaria, many cases of which go undetected, according to the World Health Organization. Early diagnosis is a key component in treatment and transmission of the disease, and one which requires analyzing samples under a microscope. There was a microscope where Prakash was working, but it wasn’t in use.

“I saw this $50,000 microscope in a jungle in the middle of nowhere, locked in a room. It was an ironic moment. I could see immediately it wasn’t the right tool,” Prakash told CNN. For one, the microscope was unwieldy — heavy and complicated to move to remote locations. It also required expensive repairs if it became damaged and could only be operated by specifically trained lab technicians, another cost. 

So Prakash returned to the United States with an idea: a small, inexpensive microscope that was easy to use and make. He teamed up with Stanford graduate student Jim Cybulski and the two set about turning the vision into reality. They had a tough road ahead of them. “It took an immense amount of engineering. In that earliest phase, I was sat next to labs with million-dollar microscopes. We wanted to make a microscope at a price point of $1,” Prakash said. They called their approach “frugal science.” 

With that philosophy, the two men decided that the best material to make their apparatus out of was the same stuff on which they’d sketched its design possibilities. Paper was inexpensive and sustainable, with the ability to be precisely cut and folded. Soon, they had a workable model — and a name: the Foldscope. 

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Today, the Foldscope does exactly what Prakash envisioned it would. With 140x magnification capabilities, it can indeed detect malaria cells for early diagnosis (though it hasn’t been approved for diagnostics in human health yet). To date, hundreds of scientific papers have been published using data collected with the paper microscope, and last year it was used to identify a novel species of freshwater bacteria.

In addition to the 1.8 million that have already been distributed across 160 countries, the tiny tool boasts an impressive and engaged online community. Members can attach the Foldscope to their phones’ cameras to capture and share their slides on a forum called Microcosmos

Now, Foldscope Instruments, Inc. creates and sells classroom kits, provides training, and even sells swag. But Prakash isn’t about to take a breather, telling CNN: “I want to bring science into everyone’s hands.”

Teemill

“Dear Mr. Bin Man,” a little boy scrawled on a piece of paper, “I am very worried about lots of rubbish. Will there be enough room in the world for me when I’m a grandad?” Mart Drake-Knight was 5 years old when he sent this heartfelt letter to his local sanitation department in Britain’s Isle of Wight. He had just been told by his mother about landfills, and the newfound knowledge wasn’t sitting well with him, he explained decades later from the TEDx stage

Today, the award-winning entrepreneur is still concerned about “lots of rubbish,” but rather than writing letters, he and his brother Rob are using their passion for the environment to bring sustainability to the fashion world. “What changed is that we realized, as adults, we have the means to build the answer ourselves,” Drake-Knight told Nice News. Together they founded Teemill, and their mission was simple: reduce waste. 

The certified carbon neutral clothing company produces T-shirts from 100% plastic-free organic materials, using renewable energy. The tees are printed to order to avoid warehouse overstock, and each one comes with a special QR code on its tag that customers can scan to send the shirt back once they’re is ready to part with it. Teemill then reuses the material to produce new products and provides a discount on a future purchase The end result is a sustainable, circular economy — meaning what goes out, comes right back in.

“Everyone in the world has a connection with clothing — it reflects our identity, protects us, it’s a huge part of the global economy, yet the way it operates today is extremely wasteful,” Drake-Knight said about his motivation to enter the fashion industry. “Most things in the world are made the same way: take a material, turn it into a product, use it for a bit and then throw it away: take, make, waste. It’s a design issue — so we set out to design the solution.”  

Teemill

And the innovative company isn’t keeping their T-shirt tech close to the vest. “For a solution to work,” Drake-Knight said, “it must be at least as big as the problem. So when it comes to ending waste, we need as many brands, businesses, and entrepreneurs on board with our mission.” 

To that end, Teemill developed a free, open-access platform, which means anyone with an eye for fashion can use the brand’s services, including graphic design and e-commerce, to build their own sustainable brand. Today, Teemill has a community of over 10,000 people, including big names like Tesla and BBC Earth, as well as digital content creators and independent sellers. 

“We’ve developed the tech to make a circular economy accessible for all,” said Drake-Knight. “Now, it’s time to share that with the world and scale it so that we can truly fix the waste problem.”

a mosiac placed in a divot in the sidewalk; it features a circular geometric pattern. Big fallen leaves are on the ground above it.
@ememem

The city of Lyon, France, is as much subject to urban decay as any other metropolis, the wear and tear from cars, weather, and foot traffic leading to crumbling pavement and potholes on once pristine roads. But for one man, there is inspiration in disrepair. An anonymous artist known as Ememem has been filling in street and sidewalk divots with striking geometric mosaics — colorful bursts of beauty amid the asphalt. 

“He calls himself the bitumender,” a representative for the artist told Nice News, referencing bitumen, a substance used for paving. As soon as Ememem laid the first tile, “he understood he was going to do it again and again, until the end of his life.” 

The striking street art melds contemporary style with the ancient Japanese tradition of kintsugi, the practice of using gold to mend broken pottery. He’s has been creating the pieces for the last six years, first in Lyon, then Paris, and throughout Europe — adorning streets in Norway, Germany, Spain, Scotland, and Italy with hundreds of his creations. 

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He doesn’t speak to media in person or by phone, and he won’t allow his face to be photographed — inviting comparisons to anonymous England-based street artist Banksy — but Ememem doesn’t shy away from explaining the impetus for his work. According to his website, which refers to him as a “sidewalk poet,” he’s interested in “the art of healing the street,” believing that his mosaics encourage viewers to reflect “on the care given to what is damaged and the role that we can give to our public spaces.”

In an interview with the French website Brainto, the artist explained what led him to his unique practice he calls “flacking,” from the French word “flaque,” meaning puddle. “One day, I patched up the entrance to the driveway at my workshop. An old, dark, blunt alley. I made [it] little colored bandages with ceramic scraps at my disposal. In the next workshop, a huge pothole greeted me every morning. So before wallowing in it, I one day grabbed a trowel and set about making [it] a custom bandage. A high-fashion coat grafted onto the asphalt the first ‘flack’ was born and Ememem with it,” he wrote, adding, “the idea was therefore to highlight what has been damaged and to make it stronger and more beautiful, to bring it to light.”

@ememem

To maintain his anonymity, and to mitigate the potential illegality of interfering with public spaces, Ememen works exclusively in the evening hours, donning disguises and sometimes going so far as to bring along props, per The Guardian. He once dressed as a plumber, his agent, Guillaume Abou told the outlet. But the city of Lyon seemingly takes no umbrage with his unconventional repairs. This year, officials have commissioned the artist to design a network of beautiful bicycle paths, a project he will undertake over the next four years. 

Today, Ememem’s work is appreciated around the world. He’s participated in over a dozen festivals, art fairs, and cultural collaborations. And despite not wanting to share his face, he is open to sharing his methods: The artist will be accepting applications from people wishing to participate in a three-week residency in Cayenne, French Guiana, to learn his technique, and he plans to expand the projects to California and New Orleans, Louisiana, in the future. Those interested in owning a piece of his art for themselves can purchase portions of his past work.

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus, East Bank.
LawrenceSawyer via iStock

Like millions of others around the globe, Elliott Tanner started back up at his college’s graduate degree program this fall. But while many of his fellow students at the University of Minnesota might be driving themselves to campus or hitting parties on the weekends, Elliott’s experience is a bit different. He’s only 14 years old — and he’s pursuing his Ph.D. in physics.

Elliott started his college career at just 9, when he began taking classes at his local community college in Bloomington, Minnesota. As such, he’s experienced being something of a classroom oddity a few times over. But it really isn’t as big a deal as it may seem, he told Fox9 News: “Sometimes there is sort of a ‘wow’ period for a week or two and then everyone just kinda gets used to seeing me in class, and it becomes a normal occurrence.” 

Elliott’s family has long known he’s gifted — the youngster started doing math as a toddler and became a member of Mensa International at the tender age of 6, Minnesota Parent reported. But the rest of the world was made privy to his academic prowess when he graduated from UofM earlier this year at age 13 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in math, making waves in the media and earning him a loyal following of supporters wanting to see him succeed.  

For Elliott, who wants to be a high energy theoretical physicist, the next logical step was to earn a doctorate, so he and his parents were ecstatic when he was accepted to UofM’s prestigious Ph.D. program. They quickly realized, however, that the over $20,000 a year admission was a hurdle that would prove challenging. “You don’t think you’re going to have to pay for college for a 9-year-old, let alone grad school for a 13-year-old. So we weren’t prepared for that part,” his mother, Michelle, told KSTP

After exhausting all options for grants and scholarships, the family started a GoFundMe, and were blown away by the overwhelming support they received from the many strangers rooting for Elliott. His first year’s tuition was funded within a month, and more people have contributed to assure his second year is paid for as well. 

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Now, as Elliott said to KSTP, he can continue toward his goal to “spread this joy and passion for physics with other people.” And he’s got some advice for anyone else with lofty dreams.“I suppose the main sort of words would be keep going,” he said, according to Mpls St. Paul magazine, adding, “you’ve got this, you can achieve great things if you just put your mind to it.”

Mostafa Azimitabar stands next to the art he created with a toothbrush and coffee
SAEED KHAN / AFP via Getty Images

For artist Mostafa “Moz” Azimitabar, no paintbrush is as special as the humble toothbrush. 

Facing persecution in his birth country of Iran, the Kurdish artist and musician fled to Australia in 2013. Once there, he was entered into the immigration system and would spend the next eight years in detention centers. At his first stop, an offshore camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, Azimitabar turned to art to cope with his emotions. 

“I asked one of the officers on Manus: ‘Can I have some paint?’… I would like to do some artwork because I don’t want to give up’,” he recalled to AFP. The guard refused his request, however, citing safety concerns. Azimitabar returned to his shared room, frustrated, but refusing to let it go. The reality of his situation forced him to get even more creative. 

He decided to work with what he had — in this case, coffee and a toothbrush.

“I don’t know what happened … that moment was so special for me. I grabbed the toothbrush and I put it in the coffee and I just dragged it (on some paper),” he said, calling it a “moment of victory.” He continued to experiment with the technique throughout his detainment. “Art and painting helped me to be strong, to continue. Because when I paint, I don’t feel any trauma.”

Then, another moment of victory came over a year after his release in 2021: He was named a finalist for the Archibald Prize, one of Australia’s most prestigious art awards, worth over $70,000. His painting, one of 52 chosen from over 800 submissions, was created using a toothbrush, coffee, and acrylics on canvas. It’s titled “KNS088,” the number the Australian government issued him during his years in detention. 

“I made this self-portrait to share my story. My face looks outwards, showing the suffering I have experienced, but also my strength and determination,” Azimitabar wrote in an artist statement on the Art Gallery NSW website. 

“The message of my painting is love. We are all one family, connected by our humanity,” he added.

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