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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary murals made from tape at the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center and other locations around town.

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 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.

Recently, about 100 of those refugees arrived in Brattleboro. 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 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.

According to Negina, the first mural the Taliban destroyed was the first one she had helped to create.

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“The suppression of women was one of the many challenges we were addressing in our art,” said Negina. “We showed our support by painting pictures of prominent Afghan women, including the members of Zohra, Afghanistan’s first women’s orchestra. It was my first mural project and the biggest achievement of my life. I remember that day very well. It was our new year (Nowroz), and that mural made my whole year. Later, when I found out that the mural had been whitewashed, 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.”

PHOTOS: Taping up murals

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

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A group from Tape Art partnered up with members of a local ArtLords group that is made up of refugees from Afghanistan to create temporary mur…

“Honoring Honar” is now unfolding. The ArtLords are working at the museum 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, including the Zohra mural.

The public are invited to view artists’ progress at the museum through Friday, and the murals will be displayed throughout downtown Brattleboro from Saturday through Aug. 28. A map of all 20 murals will be available at the museum and elsewhere around town, with QR codes linked to images of the original murals in Afghanistan.

The collaboration between ArtLords and Tape Art was the brainchild of the museum’s manager of education and community engagement programs Kirsten Martsi.

“I was having conversations with each of these groups about how BMAC could support their work,” said Martsi, “and then it dawned on me that a collaboration might be possible. Everyone liked the idea of working together, and we were off and running.”

More information about “Honoring Honar” is available at brattleboromuseum.org.


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