Astro’s Gate depicting the gates of Tehran University, located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 123rd Street
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, those of the Bahá’í faith have been banned from teaching or studying in Iranian universities. Their businesses have been torched, they have been harassed, jailed and even killed for their beliefs. In an effort to raise global awareness, the organization Education is Not A Crime has created a campaign through art in New York CIty to show their plight.
This year’s campaign began on April 25th, with murals depicting the Bahá’í struggle for equality. Curated by Street Art Anarchy, there will be fifteen murals in total, scattered throughout Harlem and East Harlem, created by artists from all over the World. The first mural is located on the wall of the famed Faison Firehouse Theatre by artist Ricky Lee Gordon, located at 6 Hancock Place near St. Nicholas Avenue and 124th Street. Below are images of the finished murals so far.
South African artist Ricky Lee Gordon on the wall of Faison Firehouse Theatre was the first mural for the 2016 campaign
The murals are site-specific, and bring to light the stories of real people affected by this injustice. For example the Chilean muralist El Cekis painted a mural on Lexington Avenue and 119th Street in East Harlem (below), that includes a boy reading a poem by the jailed Iranian Bahá’í educator #MahvashSabet.
Astro’s Gate, located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 123rd Street (below) is the artists’ interpretation of the gates of Tehran University.
Tats Cru (above and below) mural located in a school yard on Madison Avenue and 127th Street in East Harlem
The murals above and below are in the same East Harlem school yard on Madison Avenue at 127th Street
Mural by the artist col_wallnuts (above and below) located in the school yard on Madison Avenue and 127th Street
Painted by Harlem legend Franco the Great on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 123rd Street
The artist OverUnder (OU) Erik Burke, painted a mural located on the back wall of Harriet Tubman, PS 154 on West 126th Street just west of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard
Artist known as #ArtOfBust mural on the wall of ABC school at 126th Street and Park Avenue
In considering the African-American struggle in our own country, #EducationIsNotACrime chose the Harlem and East Harlem locations for the campaign deliberately. Many of the murals can be found on the walls of schools, and the Iranian violinist, Babak Sabetian took the opportunity to play in front of many of these murals.
This is not the first time that #EducationIsNotACrime has created a street art project in New York. Last year, the campaign launched a dozen murals across New York City in advance of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly.
Mural created by the children at The Margaret Douglas School, PS 36
Timed for the opening of The United Nations General Assembly this year, the #EducationIsNotACrime Campaign hopes to bring global awareness, and provoke meaningful conversation about Iran’s human rights violations against the Baha’s. The campaign will conclude with a concert by the Afro-Iranian Folk Group Shanbehzedeh Ensemble at The Apollo Theater on September 23. You can hashtag your photos of the murals at #EducationIsNotACrime, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their website.
Check out other well-known murals depicting life and history in Harlem and El Barrio, and the 100 Gates Project on the Lower East Side. Check out the Top 10 NYC Street Art Murals in 2015. Did you know that you can lunch at the United Nations? You can contact the author at AFineLyne.