Name: Shamsia Hassani
Living in the war-torn country of Afghanistan is not easy, but as the country’s first female street artist, she is now using her incredible talent and passion for peace and freedom to show people a different view of the country she loves. According to Women You Should Know, “She first learned about “graffiti,” a new word in Afghanistan, in 2010 when she participated in a visiting art program taught by a graffiti artist from the UK. Prior to that, the young artist had only painted on canvas not walls, and with brushes not spray paint cans. Once she was introduced to this new medium, it changed her perspective on the power art holds and the impact it can make.”
5 Reasons Shamsia is Awesome:
Of her work, Shamsia said, “Using graffiti I want to cover over the bad memories of war from people’s minds with color. I could say my words to people, but images have more power than words.”
- Shamsia uses her work as a way to communicate about Afghan women’s rights, saying, “I believe there are many who forget all the tragedy women face in Afghanistan, which is why I use my paintings as a way to remind them. I try to show the women bigger than what they are in reality, and in modern forms shaped in happiness and movement. I try to make people look at them differently because despite what people think about Afghan women, freedom is not to remove the burqa, it is to have peace.”
- Graffiti is legal in Afghanistan, but Shamsia still has to carefully navigate the dilapidated and dangerous streets to share her work. It’s not always easy for her to access the buildings and walls she wants to work on, so she uses a method called “Dream of Graffiti,” where she works her mural concepts out as drawings or paintings and then applies this to photos taken from different parts of Kabul.
- Shamsia lives and works in Kabul, but also travels around the world exhibiting her work and sharing her messages of peace and hope, including being a visiting artist at Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
- Shamsia saus, “I think art can change society. I know I can’t do it all on my own, but I want to bring change, even if I change 1 percent of people’s thoughts, it’s something.”
A sample of Shamsia’s street art: