ArtLord refugees decorate Brattleboro
BRATTLEBORO - 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-blasted 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.
Recently, about 100 of those refugees arrived in Brattleboro, which opened its arms to its newest community members. Dozens of local nonprofits, schools, government agencies, and faith communities joined by scores of individuals and families, hastened to provide them with housing, food, transportation, and other essentials.
Among those who found refuge in Brattleboro were five members of the ArtLords - Marwa, Negina, Meetra, Zuhra, and Abdul.
After a period of settling into their new home, those five ArtLords, with support from the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center and in collaboration with a Boston-based public art group called Tape Art, are now embarking on a project that will adorn Brattleboro’s historic downtown with temporary murals paying homage to the ArtLords murals destroyed by the Taliban.
The ArtLords have chosen to call the project “Honoring Honar” - honar being the Dari word for art. “Honoring Honar” will unfold over the course of three weeks in August. The ArtLords will work at BMAC with Tape Art founders Michael Townshend and Leah Smith to create 20 large adhesive-backed murals containing recreated fragments of ArtLords murals destroyed by the Taliban.
The murals will be displayed throughout downtown Brattleboro until Sunday, August 28. A map of all 20 murals will be available at BMAC and elsewhere around town, with QR codes linked to images of the original murals in Afghanistan.
Critical support for “Honoring Honar” and for Brattleboro’s Afghan community in general has been provided by the Multicultural Community Center of Southern Vermont, an arm of the Ethiopian Community Development Council, the federal resettlement agency for southern Vermont.
More information about “Honoring Honar” is available at brattleboromuseum.org.