Hani Shihada is an artist known for his New York City sidewalk art, but he didn’t plan to trade his canvas for a pavement. He traveled on his own to faraway Rome in 1977. Hani saw an artist drawing pictures on the sidewalk and was fascinated. He had always believed that art should be for everyone, and sidewalk art was available for everyone, and sidewalk art was available to all people, especially those who could not afford to buy it. It took art out of museums and brought it to the people. Hani spent weeks observing Italian street artists, and soon he was drawing on the pavement himself.
Hani learned by observing others and by experimenting with chalk art. He uses soft pastel and mixes his own colors. Hani rubs the pastel into the sidewalk to give the painting more strength and sprays a fixative when he is done, Sidewalk art is an Italian tradition that Hani and others brought to America.
In 16th century Italy, artists went from town to town sketching religious pictures on the pavement in village squares. The Madonna was a favorite subject, and these artists came to be known as Madonnari. Hani is not only an artist but also an educator, teaching entire classrooms how to make magic on the sidewalk. He makes his own sidewalk pastel chalk and describes it as like making dough for bread. He mixes up powdered pigments, chalk, soap, gum Arabic and water.
After several years of teaching himself, he moved to Spain and then to the United States, where he became a citizen, He has been commissioned to do great “walks” of art by many different clients, including New York State, the Florida State, and the New Jersey State. Nickelodeon channel, the PBS channel, CBS, MTV, and the ABC Channel, the Lincoln center, and several Hollywood movies where he portrayed himself. He worked for many advertising agencies and events, companies public and private including Broadway theatre shows. General Motors, Weird Magazine, New Yorker Magazine. Reebok, Adidas, Giorgio Armani, Fuji film, Heinekens, Discover Card and many others.