A renowned Afghan artist, who fled the Taliban takeover and has since resettled in the D.C. area, is fighting to keep Afghan art alive.
Omaid Sharifi is co-founder of ArtLords, a Kabul based street art group that painted murals and public artworks across Afghanistan’s capital city.
Sharifi will be holding a fireside chat on Saturday evening at D.C.’s Eton Hotel to talk about his harrowing journey out of Afghanistan, and what art means to his country.
Nawa Lodin from the Afghan women’s rights organization, Women for Afghan Women is organizing the event.
She said all proceeds will go towards helping resettle Afghan refugees in the United States.
Lodin, whose parents themselves fled to the U.S. with the Soviet invasion in 1979, said the Taliban has been targeting artists since taking over the country in August.
“So many artists are now deleting any sort of sketches they have on their phones, any social media accounts they had of their art. Many people are burning or destroying the pieces of art they have in their homes,” Lodin said.
She said all of Sharifi’s murals have been destroyed.
“It’s horrific to think that something that you are passionate about that doesn’t hurt anybody has now suddenly become illegal overnight,” Lodin said.
But Lodin said Sharifi is fighting back with his paintbrush. He’ll be recreating one of his murals at Saturday’s event and wants the public to help him do so.
Lodin said that Afghanistan has been a center of culture and art dating back centuries, and despite the Taliban’s crackdown, Afghans are resilient.
“One thing in Afghan history that’s been shown time and time again … invasions happen quickly unfortunately, but they rarely last, so Afghans will overcome this as well.”
The event begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25.