I first met my now dear friend Sughra Hussainy, at her Turquoise Mountain exhibit in the Smithsonian's Freer Sackler Gallery of Art. When she visited the United States a second time to do demos at the art exhibit, she realized it was not safe to return home to Afghanistan. She had received death threats from the Taliban, and she was threatened with kidnapping. They disapprove of her being a working woman and coming to the US, her photos splashed all over the internet with “the enemy” Laura Bush, and the fact that she and her brother belong to an ethnic and religious minority and are artists who want their art to bring change.
Photo, above: Sughra and the Studio Pause community who collaborated on Thou Art: The Beauty of Identity, a community poetry book. The art show, reading, and bookmaking was held at UUCA, 2017.
A Baltimore-based organization Asylee Women Enterprises is helping her with her asylum application. HIAS , a prominent resettlement firm in Silver Spring is helping her with legal services.
People have asked me often about the difference between asylum seekers and refugees. Here's what I have learned—Asylum seekers (asylees) are different from refugees—they apply for asylum in the country they have fled to to save their lives. The moment their application is received by the government they are permitted to remain legally while their application is processed. Applying for asylum is a human right. If it isn't approved they could be sent back. Until then they are allowed to live and work and pay taxes in the US. Refugees are different—countries pick whom they will welcome as refugees, based in part on a background check, and work on resettling them there.
Sughra lives in Maryland now and my family is her family. The Studio Pause community is her community here in Arlington. My 16 year-old designed her website (www.SughraHussainy.com) and a Studio member, Yuri Long, shot the beautiful photos of her at the exhibit.
If you are a friend of Studio Pause you have seen, made, or bought the community poetry book Sughra and I collaborated on last year, Thou Art: The Beauty of Identity. Sughra's art was on view at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington last year and it travelled to the Virginia Foundation for Humanities in Charlottesville. She has taught workshops for Loyola College students, DC Public School students , families in Arlington , and for the Smithsonian Associates . She has gained many fans!
Now for the BIG news!
Sughra was accepted into the Community Arts MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)! Her amazing work has won her a half tuition fellowship and another scholarship. The wonderful office of admissions is working hard to make this happen but as she has no parents to support her (her father was caught in crossfire and died when she was 9 and her mother died 5 years later), she relies on what she earns from working in a restaurant, teaching art, and selling her paintings. But that can hardly raise money for grad school. The photo above if of her attending an event for admitted students, April 2018.
So here we are! Please support her in any way possible by donating to this page. My mix media artworks in our Studio member show at UUCA this year, Baked Clay/Endless Sky: Celebrating 5 Years of Pause are for sale with all proceeds going to the fund. Sughra's artworks are for sale too and I'll post photos soon. If you are around please JOIN US for the show reception on Sun, Apr 15, 4-6 pm at UUCA. Details here .
Thank you for being part of the community that helps send her on to getting her Masters in Community Art!