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Shamsia Hassani – Kabul’s Female Graffiti Expert

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Walk down an alley in Kabul, Afghanistan and you might spot a painting of a sharp-featured woman in a blue burqa on the side of a building. That’s the work of Shamsia Hassani, Kabul’s master graffiti artist and a fine arts lecturer at Kabul University. Through fast-acting and inventive new techniques, Hassani’s bringing a world of art to the streets of her city. In the face of brutal social and living conditions for women, Hassani spray paints messages of hope across the walls of Kabul. Hassani encounters trouble from time to time while making her work, “Some people think that art is not allowed in Islam,” she says. The most prominent figure in Hassani’s work is a sharp-shouldered woman the artist paints in many different scenarios. Sometimes she’s teaching, or playing guitar, or simply just existing in the world. Hassani explains the importance of this female figure, “People will say that she is a woman and I am a woman. So if she can do something, I can do something as well.” Through cans of spray paint, Hassani uses her work to spark change in Kabul.