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Ebtehal Badawi is an expressionist painter who created the “Pittsburgh Builds Bridges” mural. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Badawi has called Pittsburgh home for seven years. Photo: Emmai Alaquiva/Provided.

Hey y’all,


Women’s History Month has come and gone, and with it we say a bittersweet goodbye to our March Creators & Innovators newsletter series host, Ivy Brashear. Her essays about the Appalachian women who have touched her life serve as reminders that none of us exists in a vacuum and are poignant tributes to everyday women doing remarkable things. Her words touched many of our readers, and I am so grateful to Ivy for sharing her talents with us.

While I’m sad to say goodbye to one exceptional woman, I am excited to introduce you to another! Ebtehal Badawi’s story is nothing short of remarkable, as is the work she is doing to bring together folks in her community. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Ebtehal earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah before moving to the United States, where she earned her master’s degree in industrial hygiene from West Virginia University.

However, painting had been her dream since she was a little girl. It was while at WVU that Ebtehal discovered art therapy. With it, she found a passion for using painting to heal. Joining the Malian Art Institute, Ebtehal learned technique, including mastering the use of color to create bright and inspiring canvases. 

Ebtehal would go on to use these talents to help address youth bullying in her city by creating the “Pittsburgh Builds Bridges” mural. Around the same time her own son faced racist bullying, she saw a video of students at a Pittsburgh high school beating up a Syrian refugee. Contacting the child’s mother, she offered her support and compassion. Following this encounter, Ebtehal decided to create a work of anti-racist art which would bring together Pittsburghers from all walks of life. 

Today “Pittsburgh Builds Bridges” murals can be found across the city. Each mural is painted not just by Ebtehal, though, but by citizens from every conceivable background – giving a new definition to “community art.” With her cheerful disposition, her brilliant eye for color and her unflappable commitment to her city, Ebtehal is bringing the people of Pittsburgh together while creating some truly beautiful art.

I am so excited for you all to get to know Ebtehal over the next month. I know you are going to enjoy her art as much as I have, and I know you are going to love this compassionate and remarkable woman. Her first dispatch will arrive in your inboxes next Thursday, so be sure to watch this space! 

Until then, y’all be blessed.



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