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An Afghan Artist Fears For The Future Of His Craft With The Taliban In Control

ArtLords co-creator Omaid Sharifi speaks during an interview at his studio in Kabul in August 2019. With the Taliban overrunning the capital on Sunday, he says his is unsure what the future holds for his art and his organization.
ArtLords co-creator Omaid Sharifi speaks during an interview at his studio in Kabul in August 2019. With the Taliban overrunning the capital on Sunday, he says his is unsure what the future holds for his art and his organization.

Updated August 16, 2021 at 1:08 PM ET

For Afghan artist Omaid Sharifi, and for many others living through the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the future is uncertain.

When the Taliban ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, creating art was dangerous. The Taliban disapproved of music, destroyed the giant carved Buddha statues of Bamiyan and banned all artistic representations of the human form.

Omaid Sharifi (left) is the co-founder of the group ArtLords. He paints a wall mural showing a young girl at the NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2016.
Christine-Felice Röhrs / Picture Alliance via Getty Images
Omaid Sharifi (left) is the co-founder of the group ArtLords. He paints a wall mural showing a young girl at the NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2016.

Sharifi, co-founder and president of the nonprofit arts organization ArtLords, says his murals focus on empathy and kindness. "And I strongly believe that my country, a wounded country, it needs healing," he told NPR's Don Gonyea on Weekend All Things Considered. "And I am healing it through my art."

On Sunday, he and his organization were painting a mural on a Kabul street when the panic and chaos started. He posted this video on Twitter:

Despite the surreal events of the Taliban's move into the city, Sharifi told NPR he's hopeful:

"It feels that — I'm not sure I may be able to paint again or not. I'm not sure my organization will be there. I'm not sure if my paintings will be there tomorrow ... But still, in this day, a couple of hours ago, I was painting in a street of Kabul. And I hope I will be able to do it again."


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

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