She’s the first female Muslim graffiti artist in Afghanistan – and she’s now using Sacramento as her latest canvas.
Her artwork is part of the dozens of new murals that have been popping up around the capital city.
Shamsia Hassani’s street art breaks the stereotype of the passive Muslim woman. In fact, her graffiti art is giving Afghan women a voice and is inspiring thousands around the world.
“I always liked to show a brighter side of Afghanistan to people around the world,” said Hassani.
Hassani lives in Kabul, Afghanistan – a place that doesn’t support women engaging in street art. In fact, she’s the first female graffiti artist in her country.
“Sometimes it’s OK, but we never know. It’s risky and dangerous,” she said.
Her boldness is now personified in a mural on Del Paso Boulevard with her female character playing an instrument overlooking the streets of Kabul.
“She has no mouth, but she has music and instrument to play her voice,” said Hassani. “And the ram horns, its a symbol that gives her power in society, so she can stay strong.”
Through her art, Hassani wants to give women a voice and to spread hope, and she has.
“It’s empowering for another woman of color to take on such big walls,” said artist Cecelia Perez.
And Hassani is not the only one: This year’s Wide Open Walls mural festival has introduced 30 new murals from renowned artists around the world, including Shepard Fairey’s 15-story mural of Johnny Cash on L street, and a gorilla piece made up of all recycled material in a downtown alley that was once run down and neglected.
“The amount of walkers, and bicyclists that stop to gaze, its fascinating, we’ve created an outdoor art gallery,” said David Sobon, the founder of the festival.
“We got suddenly this vibrancy downtown that we didn’t have three years ago,” said Visit Sacramento CEO Mike Testa.
Testa says the murals are bringing Sacramento national attention and changing the landscape of the city.
“When you look at parts of our central business district – or parts of midtown – that maybe you didn’t notice in the past, projects like this help you notice them and potentially raise the value of those properties,” said Testa.