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Brattleboro Museum of Art: Afghan Artists To Recreate Murals Destroyed by Taliban
“BRATTLEBORO, VT — When the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021, one of the first things they did was whitewash the powerful murals that had been painted on bomb blast walls in the capital city of Kabul. Soon after, the artists who had created those murals were targeted for arrest or worse.
Those artists were members of a 50-person Afghan-led artist collective called ArtLords. Fearing for their lives under the Taliban, the ArtLords and thousands of other Afghans fled their country, became refugees, and ended up scattered around the world.”
Thus begins a press release from the Brattleboro Museum of Art (BMAC). It goes on to say that approximately 100 Afghan refugees were relocated to the town of Brattleboro—and in a story that must be filed under “what are the odds?”—5 of those refugees: Marwa, Negina, Meetra, Zuhra, and Abdul, are members of the ArtLords collective. They will be working with the Brattleboro Museum and an organization called Tape Art to reconstruct parts of their destroyed murals.
Negina’s very first mural (above), depicting members of an Afghan women’s orchestra known as Zohra, was the first to be destroyed by the Taliban. “The suppression of women was one of the many challenges we were addressing in our art,” said Negina, and:
“. . . when I found out that the mural had been white washed, I was very sad, but it also confirmed what we already knew—that our art was very powerful and represented a real threat to the Taliban and their noxious ideas.”
“Honoring Honar” (“honar”is the Dari word for art) begins on August 8, and will include a re-creation of at least part of Negina’s original Zohra mural. The public is invited to view the artists’ progress at BMAC from August 10 to 12; the temporary, adhesive-backed murals will be displayed throughout the center of Brattleboro from August 13 to 28.
For more information, including links to ArtLords and Tape Art, head to BMAC’s website here.
(Photo, top: A pair of eyes (I See You)—one of the first murals painted by ArtLords in 2016—stares from the blast wall obscuring the National Directorate of Security in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of ArtLords.)
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Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.