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Painting Inspires Afghan Girls to Break Through Confinements of Tradition

in Arts & Culture

Painting Inspires Afghan Girls to Break Through Confinements of Tradition

By Abdul Haleem

“My prime objective is to portray the suffering of my fellow Afghans in paintings and exhibit them to highlight the pains of the war-weary people,” said Hafiza Mohammadi.

Dressed in a style mixing Western and traditional features, drawing picture of a Western-styled girl in her rented office, Mohammadi said that girls in Afghanistan should have the right to choose how to dress and live for themselves.

In the conservative Afghan society where people especially in the countryside deeply believe in old-fashioned traditions, women and girls are not allowed to wear Western-style cloths, nor to go to school.

Women and girls living in Afghanistan’s rural areas even cannot go outside home unless they are accompanied by a close male relative.

Describing Afghanistan as a traditionalist and militancy-plagued society, fine artist Mohammadi believes that her paintings and painting exhibitions would help gradually change people’s mindset towards modernism.

“Through painting and arranging exhibitions, I like to display the problems and pains of people particularly women and girls have faced in society,” Mohammadi told Xinhua recently.

Young people, especially girls in the relatively peaceful Mazar-e-Sharif city, welcome fine art and have approached her to learn, she said.

“Many people, especially the women and girls are interested in learning painting, but unfortunately many parents do not allow their girls to come out of their homes to learn the art due to cultural barriers and security incidents,” the ambitious female Afghan painter said.

To win parents’ support and assure them of their girls’ safety in painting classes, Mohammadi has rented a house in the city’s safe area and turned it into an “Art House for Women” for her teaching.

“A number of talented girls have been learning the art of painting in the ‘Art House for Women’ and some have become skilled painters to display  the miseries of people especially of women with their paintings,” said Mohammadi happily.

The war-weary Afghans have suffered a lot over the past more than four decades of war, Mohammadi said, suggesting that a painter is in a good position to portray the outcomes of war, which is nothing more than killing, crippling of the people and destruction of the country.

“It is my dream to highlight the problems of women and those who have been disabled due to the protracted war. Today I’m able to fulfill this dream,” Habiba Yusufi, a third-year student of fine art who often attends Mohammadi’s classes at the Art House for Women, told Xinhua.

Yusufi said that working as a painter, especially for women, is difficult in Afghanistan’s conservative society.

Nevertheless, she believes that the “struggle to overcome challenges empowers you” to achieve your noble goals.

“Although our families didn’t allow us to come out of house and opposed the girls to study or work outside home, we resisted and continued to learn painting,” said another junior painter Sajida Hekmatzada.

“Today I and some of my classmates are professional painters and our paintings have been displayed in some exhibitions,” she said happily.



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