Shamsia Hassani

From A Mighty Girl:

A young Afghan street artist is helping transform Kabul’s war-torn walls into colorful canvases filled with messages of peace, hope, and female empowerment! 28-year-old Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female street artist, hopes to use her art to “cover all the bad memories of war from people’s minds with colors,” while at the same time promote women’s rights. “I want to show that women have returned to Afghan society with a new, stronger shape,” she says. “It’s not the woman who stays at home. It’s a new woman. A woman who is full of energy, who wants to start again.”

Hassani, who was born in Iran to Afghan refugee parents, moved to Afghanistan in 2005 to study Fine Art at Kabul University. She first started creating street art after a British graffiti artist named Chu held a workshop in Kabul in six years ago. Street art, she says, appealed to her because it is so accessible to the general public; “I think that graffiti is better because all people can see it and it is available for all time.” Although the Western world often considers graffiti a crime, in Afghanistan, where there are few art galleries but plenty of blank walls, graffiti and street art are embraced as an opportunity to make cities more beautiful.

There’s a difference between graffiti and street art aka murals, isn’t there?

Hassani, who also teaches graffiti at the University of Kabul, adds that “life as a female street artist poses particular problems when people who believe women should be in the home see her at work. “I worry all the time about security problems when I am in the street,” she says, “and maybe that something will happen, and I am afraid that I should leave.” But she is determined to continue spreading her art as a message of hope: “If I color over these bad memories, then I erase [war] from people’s minds. I want to make Afghanistan famous because of its art, not its war.”

In particular, Hassani intends to continue using her art to highlight women’s issues. “In the past, women were removed from society and they wanted women to stay only at home and wanted to forget about women,” she says. “Now, I want to use my paintings to remind people about women… I am painting them larger than life. I want to say that people look at them differently now.”

You can see more images of Hassani’s graffiti series on HuffPost — or follow her on Facebook at Shamsia Hassani.


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