2024 Assyrian International Art Competition

Date: April 4, 2024

At the Assyrian Cultural Foundation, we value the deep impact art can have on individuals across the world. A single painting can illustrate the richness of a culture, the resilience of a group of people, and the power of love. It is our mission as a Foundation to highlight the importance of art within our culture, as well as some of the brilliant Assyrian artists still practicing today.

From this, the Assyrian International Art Competition was born. Over the past few years, we have seen a range of gorgeous work produced by wildly talented Assyrian artists across the world, and we are excited to shine a light on even more of these individuals this year.

Love is the theme for the 2024 Assyrian International Art Competition. The final deadline for submission is Friday, November 1, 2024. You may submit to the competition at any point leading up to that date but are not permitted to submit after the deadline. Below are the submission requirements.

  1. Submitted works must reflect the year’s theme. You cannot submit a previous work from your collection. It must be an original design that does not violate any U.S. copyright laws.
  2. The submitted piece must be in a 2D medium. Acceptable mediums include painting, drawing, collage, or mixed media (a combination of the aforementioned mediums). Digital art will not be accepted. The use of AI will result in immediate disqualification.
  3. The piece must be a minimum of 5ft² (or 4645.15cm² in metric).
  4. You may not submit any work that has been published in any capacity, including submissions to previous art competitions, submissions to physical or virtual galleries, works sold as prints, or works that were posted on any social media platform (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, your personal website, etc). Doing so will result in disqualification.

Once you are satisfied with your piece, you may submit your artwork to us. Doing so is simple:

  1. Fill out the application form provided on our Fine Arts Program page. This includes a space for a brief artist statement to elaborate on the work and its relation to the theme in no more than 200 words.
  2. Once you have completed the application, you may submit the form along with three high-resolution pictures of your work to finearts@acf-us.org. The images must be at least 1080×1080 pixels in size in a JPG or PNG format. Do not include any filters or watermarks on the image.

You will be notified if your piece was selected as one of the Top 10 Finalists. These pieces will be shared across our social media in early November, followed by the top five later in the month. The top three will be unveiled in early December. The top three finalists will be asked to mail their works to the Foundation for final judging. Shipping costs of up to $500 will be reimbursed.

Please keep in mind that winning submissions become the exclusive property of the Assyrian Cultural Foundation in exchange for the prize money. ACF reserves the right to display, publish, and promote the item in any capacity upon the work’s acquisition. Finalists are subject to U.S. federal, state, and local taxes on their winnings, with international winners subject to a 30% tax deduction on winnings as per the U.S. federal tax code.

Good luck! We eagerly await the arrival of your inspirational pieces of artwork.

Remembering Obelit Yadgar

Date: September 8, 2023

The Assyrian Cultural Foundation deeply mourns the passing of Obielit Yadgar, a cherished voice in the Assyrian community and an honorary guest at our recent Assyrian Renaissance Concert. His dedication to the arts and his unparalleled passion for storytelling have left an indelible mark. As we reflect on his invaluable contributions, let his legacy inspire and guide future generations.


Obielit (Obie) Yadgar’s journey began in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was born. A year later, his family moved to Tehran, Iran, where he spent the majority of his younger years. Later on, Yadgar and his brother immigrated to the United States. Though he initially settled in New York, it was in Chicago where he completed his high school education and made the decision to become a writer, inspired by his great-uncle’s legacy.


The young Obie Yadgar often observed his great-uncle, renowned Assyrian writer and historian Rabi Benyamin Arsanis, hunched over his desk writing. That same passion drove Yadgar to pursue his own writing career, in which he published two novels and a book of humor: Will’s Music, Whistling to Cairo, and Obie’s Opus, all available on Amazon. In addition, he made significant contributions to the Zinda magazine in the form of essays and short stories. In Yadgar’s own words, “These essays and short stories are slice-of-life pieces on the Assyrian world.”


Following a tour of duty as a U.S. Army combat correspondent in Vietnam, Yadgar began a distinguished career as a classical music broadcaster. He worked for many years in Chicago, though it is Milwaukee where he established his home and a name for himself. His program “Obie’s Opus” played on Sundays from 8 to 9 A.M. on WMSE Milwaukee, 91.7 FM.


He also hosted Musing with My Samovar, presented by the Assyrian Podcast.


Though he is no longer with us, both broadcasts can be streamed via one’s smart device.


Written by: Sarah Gawo & Cassandra Ledger

Published by: Brian Banyamin 

Assyrian Instrument: Lyers of Ur

Date: August 29, 2023

Paintings, ornate vases, reliefs, and other pieces of ancient fine art depict musicians playing a myriad of instruments. However, it’s rare the instruments they are modeled after survive to this day— and stringed instruments, in particular, are quite fragile. This made the excavation of the Lyres of Ur in 1922 a magnificent feat.
Three lyres and one harp were discovered at the Royal Cemetery at Ur, dating back to the Early Dynastic III Period of Mesopotamia (between 2550-2450 BC). Due to how the lyres were discovered, it is believed that the instruments were used during burial ceremonies. Though the wood was decayed, the instruments are covered in nonperishable materials such as gold and silver. As a result, archaeologists were able to cast them in a liquid plaster and recover them. Now, the Lyres of Ur are recognized as the world’s oldest surviving string instruments.
The lyres were distributed among those involved in the expedition and the country from which they were found. The Golden Lyre of Ur, or the Bull’s Lyre, which was the finest, was given to the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. The Queen’s Lyre and Silver Lyre are both at the British Museum. The last instrument, the Bull Headed Lyre, is held at the Penn Museum.
To better understand how this instrument may have worked, the Oriental Institute in Chicago set out to create a replica of the Golden Lyre. After years of meticulous work from musicians and artists alike, museum guests can bask in what the instrument would have looked like in its prime— and they can even hear it too.
The Lyre Ensemble podcast, an endeavor created by the Oriental Institute, chronicles the recreation of this ancient instrument and how it may sound in traditional Mesopotamian music. Though the exact sound can never be recreated without the exact same materials used thousands of years ago, an approximation can be achieved, allowing us an exciting view of the past we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Image Credits: © The Trustees of the British Museum Released under: “CC BY-NC-SA 4.0” license.

Kilmer, Anne Draffkorn. “The Musical Instruments from Ur and Ancient Mesopotamian Music.” Expedition Magazine 40, no. 2 (July, 1998): -. Accessed August 24, 2023.

Written by: Cassandra Ledger

Published by: Brian Banyamin

Maria Nissan

Date: April 22, 2023

In honor of Earth Day, the Assyrian Cultural Foundation’s Fine Arts Department is honored to share the environmentalist art of Maria Nissan. Nissan is an Assyrian environmentalist artist, who uses her work to raise awareness about plastic pollution. Maria is the co-founder of MicroPlaticsJO, a non-profit organization created in 2022, striving for a radical change in behaviors toward the way plastic is consumed and how it is disposed of. Nissan uses her art as a means of educating the public, and hosts workshops about the social and environmental impacts of overconsumption and single use plastics. Her art ranges from individual sculptural pieces to immersive installations.













MicroPlasticsJO has done incredible work in Amman, Jordon, collecting trash off the streets and turning it into art. Nissan has recently relocated to Thailand in her continuous efforts to expand the company and its influence.  Nissan’s Assyrian background plays a significant role in her work. As she puts it: “I bring together thousands of years of Assyrian legacy with recent materials such as plastic. This heritage survived through time; the plastic waste we generate daily might as well remain for hundreds of years as well.” Her most recent painting series is entitled “The Heart of the Assyrian Legacy”.


It is a series of paintings that represents the unique beauty and distinctive traits of Assyrian women. Nissan sees women as pioneers in the battle for equal rights and opportunities in the middle east. Through this art series, Nisan uses distinctive elements, colors, and shapes to personify a precious cultural heritage that has prevailed through time by means of strength and courage through adversity. Nissan is particularly focused on educating children through her work, as she believes they are our future and deserve a better world to live in. Her work is a testament to the transformative power of a creative vision, and the positive influence art can have on public awareness and understanding.


To find out more about MicroPlasticsJo, and the art of Maria Nissan, please visit the following links below;




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