By Dorothy Wilhelm with Tim Ham.
“The Taliban came into the gallery,” Timothy Ham reported, sharing the latest obstacle put in the way of the gifted Afghani artist that Tim Ham (with his associate Carl Highland) are trying desperately to rescue from Afghanistan.
The two men Tim and Abdul, the artist – touch in twice a day on the internet. Tim Ham reports the progress on the effort to secure documents needed – and of course how the fundraising site established by Ham’s associate Carl Highland is going.
Abdul (his name is disguised for security reasons) reports on his efforts to continue making a living for his family. The news is almost never good, and that’s certainly the case today. On this latest visit, the Taliban officials reiterated that Abdul may not create any painting that shows a human form and these rules have been expanded to include any form in nature. “We want you to teach calligraphy,” they said, effectively depriving the artist of a way to make a living.
“During my work in Afghanistan, I met many wonderful people,” Tim reflects, “all trying to pull their country together after decades of war, most recently with the Russians and now the Taliban. Following the most recent Taliban take over of the country in August 2021 he was told to stop painting, close his art school and art gallery. As the Taliban sought him out for his past efforts of teaching women and girls to paint and his support of the Afghan and US government efforts, he and his family went into hiding. He asked for help in escaping the home of his birth. Without painting and teaching, there was nothing there for him.
Tim recalls his efforts so far, “Though the efforts of immigration attorneys, family, friends and other artists and art instructors, he was offered a position as an art teacher at the Tacoma’s School of the Arts (SOTA) passing on his artistic talents to their high school students. The challenge of obtaining approval of a US visa and the expense of getting the family to the US and resettled with an apartment and kids in school faced us all. I reminded him that in addition to all these changes he would experience another, that of the colors of the Pacific Northwest and views will be different from where he has lived in Afghanistan. I sent him photos of Mt Rainier, from Seattle, from Gig Harbor and up close upon the Mountain. From his unfurnished apartment while in hiding in Afghanistan, he painted this iconic view of the Mountain from Gig Harbor.
Because time is so important, Tim Ham and I will be writing update articles in The Suburban Times each week, to let you know how this effort is progressing and to encourage readers to get involved.
If you’d like to help, a Go Fund Me account has been established with the hopes that others will support Abdul’s desire to once again paint, to teach and to share his story.