For the sake of an aesthetically fruitful collaboration between eye and mind:
Khadija Hashemi is a young Afghani female painter. During the time when the Taliban ruled her country, she was unable to obtain paint, and women were strongly discouraged from becoming artists. Now, however, she and her fellow Afghani painters face a different sort of discouragement, about which she spoke at an exhibition in Berlin: “Many people here in the West smile condescendingly at us an think that we are not talented.”
She also has to confront serious cultural misunderstandings involving her work. At one exhibition she asked a Western visitor what he thought about her painting of an enormous caravan of women wearing blue burqas and riding donkeys into the desert horizon, with men accompanying them on foot.
The visitor told her that the painting showed how much respect these men have for the women, letting them ride comfortably on the donkeys as they suffered on foot during the difficult trek. “Not quite,” she said. “They (the women) don’t have any role in the selection of the path. They don’t have the choice to change the path. Instead, they just have to keep on moving where the donkeys are led by the men.”
In addition to being beautifully crafted and aesthetically appealing, the art of Khadija Hashemi affords Westerners the opportunity for cross-cultural understanding, and it is therefore worthy of both respect and study.