Sughra Hussainy

Turquoise Mountain Institute graduate

The body needs food but the soul needs art . . .

My parents were both illiterate. Perhaps because of this they knew the value of education. They always told my siblings and me that we must study hard so we did not have to live as hard a life as they had lived.

My father was a day laborer. My mother was a tailor who used to make dresses. My brother and I wove carpets at home. It’s a happy memory for me, one of my family making something beautiful for people.

Both of my parents died when I was still a young girl. My dad was caught in the crossfire of a shootout when I was nine. My mother was never the same after that, and she died five years later.

Art was such a solace for my brother and me. We both knew we wanted to be artists. We work mostly at home. I sit on the floor and draw and paint. I often find that when I try to stand up, my legs have gone numb. I haven’t even noticed the passing of time.

Making art is a link for me with my past—with my family and with those who went before me. I believe that while the body needs food to live, the soul needs art.

protrait of Sughra Hussainy





The Freer|Sackler is currently closed for renovations, updates, and gallery reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Please join us for our weekend-long reopening celebration on October 14 and 15, 2017.