michigan streetart

This striking mural – some 80 feet long – covers the wall outside a Yemeni restaurant in Hamtramck, Mich. It represents Yemeni Muslim culture and history, and was painted by the Chilean artist Dasic Fernandez over the course of a winter month in 2013: “during the freezing cold and snow,” according to the civic group OneHamtramck.

I keep coming back to the intense gaze of the young girl veiled in turquoise (top photo). When the mural was unveiled, Fernandez remarked, “The child whose face is covered, look what she is wearing. She is wearing the sky, which represents freedom.“

Yemenis are one of the largest demographic groups in formerly-Polish Hamtramck; they now make up about 20% of the population. In Hamtramck streets, it’s common to see women fully veiled, with only their eyes exposed. The Muslim call to prayer rings out five times a day from more than a dozen mosques around the city.

By the way, Elissa and I highly recommend Sheeba Restaurant, which is on the other side of that mural. Above, you’ll see some of our Yemeni feast. We sampled maraq (lamb broth soup), creamy baba ghannouj, fassolia, fattoush salad, chicken stew with vegetables, and a fragrant lamb fahsa, which came to the table bubbling and steaming in that black casserole. Oh, and that delicious flatbread, which was the size of a hubcap before we tore into it. With admirable restraint, we abstained from dessert. 


Photos: Melissa Block/NPR