In Somalia, a rare female artist promotes images of peace

by Msnbctv news staff

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Among the many once-taboo professions rising from Somalia’s many years of battle and Islamic extremism is the world of arts, and a 21-year-old feminine painter has confronted extra opposition than most.

A uncommon girl artist within the extremely conservative Horn of Africa nation, Sana Ashraf Sharif Muhsin lives and works amid the rubble of her uncle’s constructing that was partially destroyed in Mogadishu’s years of battle.

Regardless of the challenges that embrace the assumption by some Muslims that Islam bars all representations of individuals, and the seek for brushes and different supplies for her work, she is optimistic.

“I really like my work and imagine that I can contribute to the rebuilding and pacifying of my nation,” she mentioned.

Sana stands out for breaking the gender barrier to enter a male-dominated occupation, in line with Abdi Mohamed Shu’ayb, a professor of arts at Somali Nationwide College. She is only one of two feminine artists he is aware of of in Somalia, with the opposite within the breakaway area of Somaliland.

And but Sana is exclusive “as a result of her artworks seize up to date life in a constructive method and search to construct reconciliation,” he mentioned, calling her a nationwide hero.

Sana, a civil engineering pupil, started drawing on the age of 8, following within the footsteps of her maternal uncle, Abdikarim Osman Addow, a widely known artist.

“I’d use charcoal on all of the partitions of the home, drawing my imaginative and prescient of the world,” Sana mentioned, laughing. Extra formal instruction adopted, and he or she finally assembled a ebook from her sketches of home items like a shoe or a jug of water.

However as her work introduced her extra public consideration through the years, some tensions adopted.

“I worry for myself typically,” she mentioned, and recalled a confrontation throughout a latest exhibition on the Metropolis College of Mogadishu. A male pupil started shouting “That is mistaken!” and professors tried to calm him, explaining that artwork is a vital a part of the world.

Many individuals in Somalia don’t perceive the humanities, Sana mentioned, and a few even criticize them as disgusting. At exhibitions, she tries to make individuals perceive that artwork is beneficial and “a weapon that can be utilized for a lot of issues.”

A instructor as soon as challenged her expertise by asking questions and requiring solutions within the type of a drawing, she mentioned.

“The whole lot that’s made is first drawn, and what we’re making will not be the gown however one thing that adjustments your inside feelings,” Sana mentioned. “Our work speak to the individuals.”

Her work at occasions explores the social points roiling Somalia, together with a portray of a soldier wanting on the ruins of the nation’s first parliament constructing. It displays the present political conflict between the federal authorities and opposition, she mentioned, as nationwide elections are delayed.

One other portray displays abuses in opposition to susceptible younger ladies “which they can’t even categorical.” A 3rd exhibits a lady within the bare-shouldered gown well-liked in Somalia many years in the past earlier than a stricter interpretation of Islam took maintain and students urged ladies to put on the hijab.

However Sana additionally strives for magnificence in her work, conscious that “we have now handed by means of 30 years of destruction, and the individuals solely see unhealthy issues, having of their thoughts blood and destruction and explosions. … If you happen to Google Somalia, we don’t have stunning footage there, however ugly ones, so I’d like to alter all that utilizing my work.”

Sana mentioned she hopes to realize additional confidence in her work by exhibiting it extra extensively, past occasions in Somalia and neighboring Kenya.

However discovering function fashions at residence for her occupation doesn’t come simply.

Sana named a number of Somali artists whose work she admires, however she is aware of of no different feminine ones like herself.

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