No One Can Take That Away From You

Back in October of 2016, I met and briefly spoke with Iranian painter Mehdi Ghadyanloo while he was working here in Boston. Mehdi was in the midst of painting a massive mural near Boston’s South Station, and it was interesting to see it in progress.

The partially-finished mural
The work in progress

The piece was still very much unfinished at the time, and I didn’t know who Mehdi was, so we merely exchanged a few pleasantries while he took a break. He then played with a young girl who seemed to be a family member of some sort, showing off his work:

The artist, Mehdi, playing with a young girl

If you ignore the fact that he’s covered in paint and is wearing a safety harness, it was a very domestic scene.

Since that day, a succession of bad things have happened in America. Shortly after the mural was completed in the fall of 2016, Donald Trump was elected president. Two months later, I found myself at Logan Airport protesting the first of several overturned immigration bans from the Trump administration. Those bans would have prevented Mehdi, an Iranian citizen, from even coming to this country.

Mehdi’s signature in the lower right of his work.

Fortunately, Mehdi was able to come here and share his work. In so doing, he became the first Iranian artist since the revolution of 1979 to be commissioned in both Iran and the US. An Iranian artist coming to America to create a massive and whimsical piece of public art is all that’s right in the world.

It’s difficult to do it justice with a photograph, and far better to see it in person, but here is the final mural:

The finished mural

The piece’s name is exactly right for our ghastly present. It’s entitled “Spaces of Hope”. May we all find them.