Zahra, Leili, Faezeh and Paniz are four young Zahedani girls who paint on the walls of their city. The four street artists, aged between 16 and 17, are looking at street as a school and have learned a lot from them.
“The Street Muralist” is the name of this group of four. Despite their relatively young age, they are the only women in the region who have independently engaged in street art so far. They all study graphic arts.
The following is excerpt of an interview conducted by Shahrvand newspaper with these four girls.
Work Begins at School
“Leili and I decided to do the job in collaboration with some of our colleagues at school, and luckily the team was formed,” says Zahra.
“Usually in this field of study, the school assigns a practical task. For example, students have to paint the school wall. After that, our teacher selected a number of us for the next projects. Then we decided to become an independent group ourselves. As we saw there was no effort to beautify the walls of Zahedan, we thought we should give it a chance. We’ve been working for 5 months now.”
According to Leili, it started with the four teenagers and then another one joined the group, but she couldn’t continue because of family opposition.
“It was unusual for a few girls to go on streets to paint. At the beginning someone was accompanying us, but as some people were bothering the group, every time a family member accompanied us. Of course, the situation is better now and we are going out on our own, but in general many families have problems with their girls painting the walls of the streets,” continues Zahra.
Noting that it not only didn’t keep them away from school, but also helped them grow, Leili said the way people deal with such issues teaches them a lot.
“One discovers things within herself. The street is exposed to the anger and happiness of the people. We learned how to control our emotions against these reactions. We learned many things from the streets that it was never possible at school.”
“Our job is not graffiti. Graffiti is a kind of protest art and has a different purpose,” says Leili about choosing the band’s name and type of work. “The Street Muralist” means street wall painting which is exactly what we do. That’s why we chose this name.”
World’s Famous Works on Zahedan Walls
About the choice of works drawn on the walls, Leili said that they mostly paint internationally well-known artworks.
“We use the world’s most famous works. In fact, our goal is to introduce these works to ordinary people. We want to eventually turn the city into an exhibition of famous works.”
Some of the walls painted by the group were demolished by street prowlers and those who opposed the girls’ work.
“Every job has its own difficulties,” Zahra explained, “We’ve expected these kinds of problems since the beginning. Nothing would happen if we keep silent and do nothing. So we must stop those who have ruined our work with our motivation. If they destroy them hundreds of times, we’ll draw them again.”
About the idea of portraying the limitations of women in their paintings, Zahra said they have no plan to do such a thing. “I think their power and beauty are far more beautiful than their limitations.”