PORTLAND, Maine — A new mural at a popular public graffiti wall in Portland aims to highlight the ongoing Iranian war.
After speaking at the University of Southern Maine, Shahin Khojastehzad used a $200 stipend to direct Mainers' attention to the women-led revolution in Iran. Even though the paint cost him a lot more than $200, he believes the impact is invaluable.
"We wanted to do a project this scale just because, at this point, it's kind of undeniable. If it's just a message on the wall or just a poster, it might be lost in the shuffle, but I think when you do a 400-foot mural like this, it gets people's attention," Khojastehzad said.
Khojastehzad has called Maine home for more than two decades, and it was time for him to resurface this ongoing revolution, one that has killed many women throughout the years.
"It's young, old, women, men, rich and poor, everybody ... and at this point is no longer ready for a reform in Iran. They are ready for a regime change in Iran, and they wanted it to be done by the Iranian people, and the fact that this movement is special is because it's women led," Khojastehzad said.
The mural reads "Women, Life, Freedom." In just six hours, with no rulers or pencils, Adams sketched the words on the wall. Soon after, Khojastehzad and a group of volunteers started painting it out.
"Shahin and I arrived first and I plotted it all out, got the outlines for the letters done, and then we had volunteers come to help kind of fill it in to make it happen," Adams said.
"Just to have this piece and have this impact even for just this moment, it's worth it," the graffiti artist said.
"We painted it specifically on Nowruz, which is the Persian new year. It's an ancient celebration where its light beats darkness. It's the spring solstice and it really symbolizes good over evil," Khojastehzad explained. "And I feel like this art, just like this legal wall, everything is temporary, including the regime in Iran."
Everyone involved in the project hopes it stays up in the public graffiti wall as long as possible and reaches the eyes of as many people as possible.
"It seems lazy, especially in the social media age of just reposting a story and being kind of a couch lock activist, but oddly enough the main thing that you can do: just share a story. If you see an article, keep sharing it, tag your local politicians, your state politicians, your U.S. politicians, and just ask them to please keep this in the zeitgeist," the Iranian refugee said.
Khojastehzad said if you feel inclined to make a donation to help the people in Iran, always triple check who you are sending money too. He said some accounts that people have been sending money too are actually accounts attached to the regime.