Multicultural News

Afghan artist picks up passion year after evacuation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One year ago, the first Afghan Refugees arrived in Indiana at Camp Atterbury. One man has picked up his passion for art, saying it gives him the freedom to not only tell a story, but to also raise awareness.

Qahar Behzad taught himself how to paint as a child. It’s a skill that supported his family back home in Afghanistan, but it took a backseat when his life turned upside down. With support from Big Car Collaborative, he showcases his art at the Guichelaar Gallery.

There’s a piece standing in this room full of art. A stark contrast to the fear that gripped Behzad just one year ago.

“I couldn’t get out of my home for a week or two. I was so scared,” he said.

He’s from Afghanistan. When the Taliban took over in August last year, his chances of staying there and safe were highly unlikely, so he took the chance and left behind his country.

“I created this piece because the history is once again repeated,” he said while pointing to one of his pieces of work.

He’d been an artist working with the US military, creating commissioned work and teaching soldiers art. One day before the explosion outside Kabul’s airport, he got out.

“I was happy to leave my country, but at the same time it was very difficult to leave everything behind. My family, my friends, my home, everything,” Behzad said.

His first stop in Indiana was Camp Atterbury. Instead of sitting back, he got to work by helping translate. While it fulfilled a passion to serve, his creative passions took a back seat. But now that’s things are somewhat “normal”, he’s again picked up his brush.

“What she is wearing is a cage. For her, she’s inside the cage. She doesn’t have the freedom of speech, [or the] freedom of sharing her thoughts,” Behzad said.

His stay at the Guichelaar Gallery is wrapping, but inside he’s showcases pieces he created in Afghanistan, a few from his younger sister still in Afghanistan, and new pieces.

“Through my artwork, I want to show what’s happening there. I want to share with the world that Afghanistan is not just what you see, [or] what you hear from the small terrorist group,” he said.

The art has been up all August, and will close out at the end of the week but will remain on sale afterwards.