The Grow North Creative Residency is an initiative by North York Arts to “pass the mic” to artists in our community. Local artists living in North York are given the opportunity to share information, teachings, and their artistic practice with our audience, and engage with the North York Arts community in meaningful ways.
If you are on social media or have attended protests in person, you might have seen the amount of art that is being produced in support of the protests in Iran. You might be wondering why creating art is so significant in the fight for a free Iran.
For context, It is important to know that Iran has a rich history of art, poetry and music that dates back thousands of years. For the past 43 years, all forms of art have been policed, censored, repressed or blocked by the Islamic Republic government. Artists living in Iran cannot freely express themselves through art or any other means. You will find a lot of symbolism, metaphors, or other clever tools artists utilize to express what is forbidden under the Islamic Republic rules and regulations. Iranian artists living outside of Iran who create political art or feely criticize the regime, risk going to prison or worse if they ever decide to go back to Iran.
In a society where freedom of choice and freedom of expression is against the rules, to freely create art and speak your mind becomes a form of protest. This is why protest art has become so important for Iranians.
Now what is protest art? Protest art or Activist art is the creative works produced by artists and activists that reflect social movements or bring awareness to a political issue. It is a traditional means of communication for citizens, as well as protesting totalitarian regimes where freedom of expression can be seen as a form of civil disobedience. Protest art comes in many forms and mediums such as: illustration, animation, video art, music, anthems, poems, performance art, installation and more.
Many Iranian artists, myself included, feel that it is our responsibility to use our voice, platform and skills to show solidarity with the protesters, help amplify their voices through art and hopefully bring positive change to the movement.
Over the past 3 months, a large number of non-Iranian artists and musicians have also joined in on creating protest art in support of the protesters which has brought worldwide attention to the protests.
If you are an artist who is inspired by the Iranians’ fight for freedom, please use your voice and skills to amplify the Iranian voices. Create portraits, videos, posters, music or any other way that feels authentic to you, to raise your voice in support of the protesters in Iran.