Friday, July 24, 2009

NYC Artist Inspired by Iranians Protesting for Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights

artwork and image
copyright (c)2009 Tina Portilla
used by permission

reported by Julie Jigsawnovich

Stunned by the soaring feeling of vastness and self-determination that this drawing exudes, and captivated by the synthesis of iconography from the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, the Azadi (Freedom) Tower and Green democracy movement in Iran, I asked the artist how she came to draw it. Tina Portilla answered,"I've been working with a focus on politics for a while. Situations from all over the world interest me. When a good friend of mine, who happens to be Iranian, started going to protests and such, I thought I'd do more research. What I discovered as I followed the situation more and more closely appalled me, and I wanted to get involved as well.

"After a while, however, it seemed I was shouting at a brick wall. I would re-post videos and articles on Facebook, urge people to come to rallies, try to get the word out as much as possible. But it seemed like none of my non-Iranian friends cared... as a matter of fact, most of them flat out did not. A friend asked me once, as we sat in a bar drinking, why I wore the green armband. I gave him a brief rundown... and his response? 'I don't watch the news... I don't need that negative bullshit in my life.'


"I finished my beer, nodded at the bartender and left. I couldn't believe it. After that, I REALLY wanted to do more than go to protests and rallies and spread things on Facebook. My friend, who I had mentioned before, founded The Freedom Glory Project, which I'm sure you've heard of. He's an amazingly talented and passionate musician; his words come from the heart and resonate in your soul. I figured, he does what he knows, I should do what I know and draw. But I wasn't quite sure what to do yet...

"The answer came after I read the story about Taraneh. It destroyed me. I sat in my bed weeping, nearly vomiting. Later that night, the drawing started coming together, and by the end of that night, I had a preliminary sketch. By the end of the next night, I had an almost finished drawing up on my Facebook, which I was sure no one would see, haha... but I see I was wrong!

"She's done with watercolor pencils and permanent marker... and I chose a goddess figure over anything else I could have used because not only have women been on the front lines of this revolution, but it is violent, negative male energy that is dominating the people of Iran. A goddess of peace and liberty is just what they need right now, I believe."

Portilla informed this reporter, "that's a white rose she's holding behind her back. The word at the bottom is "Freedom." Her crown is made from the windows of the Azadi tower [Freedom Tower in Tehran,] as her skirt is made from the rest." Portilla later added some lines as framing, and a flock of black birds. The original, "unfinished" drawing is shown here.

Come be inspired! There is a rally in support of Iranian democracy, freedom and human rights scheduled to begin tomorrow at 12:30 in Times Sq., at 7th Avene and West 41st Street, continuing on to the United Nations, at 1st Avenue and East 47th Street from around 3-5pm. There are simultaneous rallies in 83 cities around the world. See for more information.

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