A year after U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, refugee to tell his story through paintings

Qahar Behzad.png
Posted at 6:34 AM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 06:35:12-04

INDIANAPOLIS — One year ago, thousands of Afghan refugees left their country for a better life following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Many came to Indiana through Camp Atterbury, including one refugee who is getting back to his passion and telling his story through art.

"I was happy to leave my country, but at the same time, it was very difficult to leave everything behind," said Qahar Behzad.

It was an indescribable feeling for Behzad the day he left his country.

"It was a day before the explosion happened at Kabul airport. I spent many hours outside the gate, and I was able to finally get inside," said Behzad.

He went to the airport, hoping his entire family would join — but only he and his sister made it on the flight. He had to leave the rest of his family and everything he worked for behind for a better life.

"It was a chaotic scene. It was something as I remember I felt like the world was ending. We don't share the same culture and religion as the Taliban. We don't want to be around them or with them," said Behzad.

Behzad was sent to Indiana, while his sister went to Virginia. Thanks to his political science degree, he could land a job with exodus refugee immigration as a legal assistant. But there was one thing left on his to-do list: make his American dream complete.

"Through my artwork, I want to show what's happening there," said Behzad.

Behzad was a well-known artist in his country.

"I did a lot of interviews on Afghan channels. They were able to know about me," said Behzad.

He also worked at an art gallery in Afghanistan and taught American soldiers how to paint.

"Every day they were at war. They were experiencing and seeing sadness and war and killings. But when they were in my space, they were calm, and it felt like they were home. Even though they are far from their family, they have family here too," said Behzad.

Behzad now expresses that sense of comfort through his art in the U.S., telling his story about his country through his paintings.

"I want to show them what they don't see or haven't seen — Afghan culture, Afghan history, Afghan beauty — so they'll have a better understanding of what's Afghanistan," said Behzad.

Behzad's art show will be this Friday from 6-10 at Guichelaar Gallery, 1135 Cruft Street.