Art Seen

This Refugee Artist Uses Sidewalk Chalk To Spread A Message Of Peace And Unity

"I was always searching for freedom."

Most artists put their work on actual canvases and see it hang in actual galleries but, for Hani Shihada, the sidewalk is both of those things. This man's chalk art not only takes place in public, it holds a message of peace and unity for all who pass by.

Shihada — a Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem — fled to Jordan in 1967 and has been a refugee ever since. Now he lives in New York City and channels everything that has happened to him into his creative outlet that, as an added benefit, helps others.

"I just tried to know the way to survive," Shihada told A Plus. "To see beauty among chaos. To see something positive, something inspiring. You look for that. You need that. It was art, really. Art made sense to me. I just found myself."

Now that he is in New York City, Shihada finds that the world is represented in his daily life, he is treated like a human being, and that people relate to him because of his talents — not judging him because of where he comes from. This, to him, is a "beautiful thing."

"I was always searching for freedom," Shihada added. "This is the most important thing to me … to be free."

Check out the video above.


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