Creating Art for World Nurses Day
Tired Earth: An Interview with Selva Ozelli, International Tax Lawyer and Artist

What are you working on now?

We are in the midst of a Worldwide coronavirus pandemic with health professionals putting their lives, their intellectual property on the line, to save us. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this year as the year of health and healthcare workers. The U.S.’s recent endorsement of a proposal to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents may pave the way to a quick recovery from the pandemic given the growth of Covid-19 cases in low- and middle-income countries, which have been largely left without the huge shipments of vaccine.

Therefore, this year I launched two new art shows “Art in the Time of Corona 3 & 4 – Recovery Roses”  that include portraits of healthcare professionals including  Dr. Ozlem Tureci who is the chief medical officer and the co-founder of the biotechnology company BioNTech, which developed the first approved messenger RNA-based vaccine against COVID-19 in 2020.



The paintings in my Art in the Time of Corona series of art shows were selected in the following United Nations art contests and Tired Earth’s #Maskuary Campaign:

  • #OnlyTogether: United Nations Verified Global Campaign for Fair Vaccine Access:
  • United Nations World Unity Art Contest:;
  • United Nations Global Goals Art Contest:  
  • United Nations & WHO Global Call Out to Creatives - help stop the spread of COVID-19:
  • Tired Earth’s #Maskuary Campaign:;

How has this year been so far, what worked well, what didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?

The United Nations celebrates and raises awareness for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and declared the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development at the 74th General Assembly. A sustainable green recovery plan from the pandemic, necessitates understanding the links between climate change, health, biodiversity; and implementing ambitious climate change policies, which align with the Paris agreement. The United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. More important than ever, these goals provide a critical framework for a COVID-19 green recovery.  

This year for the first time, along with The CUHK Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change1; The Institute of International Knowledge Management (TIIKM); fellow artists Semine Hazar; Fatma Kadir; and Ilhan Sayin; I joined Tired Earth’s Worldwide #Maskuary environmental campaign. The #MASKUARY campaign raises awareness of the environmental pollution from single use plastic face mask disposals with the risk of contamination and infection it creates. The launch of the #Maskuary Campaign art shows will take place at 2021 London Climate Action Week. My art show can be found at:


In addition to joining the #Maskuary campaign, during the first half of this year I made a concerted effort to exhibit my seven art shows with the themes of a green recovery from the pandemic that include-- two group art shows Atelier Teymur Rzayev First Digital Climate Change Art Show, Clean Air for Blue Skies, solo art show Breathe Life2 and my four Art in the Time of Corona series of art shows-- in as many UN conferences around the world as  possible:

  1. The Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change Hong Kong3;
  2. Solidarity Show COVID-19 Arts Initiative (World Health Organization & Create 2030);
  3. UN’s 7th Session of Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development4
  4. UN’s 7th Asian Pacific Adaptation Forum; 
  5. EU Africa Business Forum; 
  6. World Wetlands5, Water6 and Oceans7 Days Art Shows; 
  7. International Women’s Day – Istanbul Art Magazine & Fine Arts Addict Art Shows;
  8. International Day of Women and Girls in Science: CIMUSET-International Committee for Museums of Science & Technology8;
  9. World Waste Management & Fine Arts Conference Art Shows – Srilanka;  
  10. World Wildlife & Forest Days Art Shows9;
  11. World Health Day - World Water Coalition South America Art Show10;  
  12. World Artist Day Art Show11;
  13. Earthday.Org Artist Gallery12;  
  14. World Vaccine Week13;
  15. World Intellectual Property Day Art Show14;
  16. World Migratory Bird Day Art Show15
  17. The Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2021 (LACCW2021) Art Show;
  18. Biodiversity Day Art Show16;
  19. 2021 London Climate Action Week (LCAW) Art Show.

What do you hope to express in your “Art in the Time of Corona” series of digital art shows?

In my Art in the Time of Corona series, I explored whether Climate Change caused by carbon emissions might be one reason for such a terrible global COVID-19 pandemic scenario. Carbon pollution defies national borders and is inescapable. The true cost of climate change is felt when it penetrates deep into our respiratory and circulatory systems and damages our lungs, which are highly vulnerable to the coronavirus, according to a report prepared by the WHO17.


What influenced you to paint about environmental matters and please explain the role of religion in your decision?

I began painting during the covid quarantine last March based on my environmental articles. My first solo art show was “Art in the Time of Corona.”

I was brought up by my great aunt environmentalist Adnan Esenis who founded a private secondary school in Arnavutkoy, Istanbul. She built her school around two tall cypress trees, never cutting them down during construction. Our school yard had 100-year-old wisteria vines as thick as tree trunks, all types of beautiful trees including a magnolia tree as well as rabbits, cats and lizards. She respected nature believing that human beings have a special responsibility to cultivate, guard, respect and use our environment very wisely. I suppose, I learned everything from my great aunt. Although Judaism, Christianity and Islam all tree religions which co-exist in Istanbul teach that each human is the custodian of nature and must live in harmony with other creatures.

What are your plans for the future?

In good health, I hope to continue making climate change themed art work and exhibit them at the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 and UN Climate Change Conference COP26.

How can people find out more about what you are working on?

TWITTER:  @sozelli




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