The Act

The Butterfly of Fine Arts

Although people were skeptical about her aspirations due to her physical disability at the level of her upper limbs, Najet Bemri has been painting and pursuing her passion for fine arts. She overcame barriers and broke down stereotypes, assertively leaving her mark as a celebrated visual artist.
Najet Bemri is a Tunisian visual artist based in Monastir. She uses her mouth to paint due to a physical disability at the level of her upper limbs. In 2020, as part of the country’s celebration of National Women’s Day, president Kais Said awarded her the Medal of Merit.
Najet never went to school as from the age of 6 to 10; she was often hospitalized, having one medical operation after another. She started painting when she was three years old, after her mother walked in on her, holding a pen with her mouth and painting on the wall. Discovering her talent for painting, she encouraged her to pursue her hobby and supported her by buying her art supplies. The themes of her paintings vary, often inspired by everyday life scenery, nature and historical landmarks. She loves vibrant colors and wants her art to radiate positivity and optimism. She does customized paintings that she sells in exhibitions.

Najet is on a mission to dismantle stereotypes and challenge misconceptions about people with disability, especially around the use of the word hopeless or “meskina” in Arabic, a word she has relentlessly heard from neighbors and relatives. She admits that her disability makes her stronger and more resilient, able to overcome any challenge. According to her, having a disability should not define who you are or set a limit to your potential. As a mother, she addresses parents who have children with disability, not to be ashamed of their disability; but to support them in any way possible.