It has been nearly 12 years since Afghanistan-born German Muslim school teacher Fereshta Ludin won the right to wear her headscarf in the public school system and the topic remains very hot around the country. For one thing, eight German states forbid the practice and as the website DW reported “the verdict’s results continue to spur controversy and leave some asking what is more oppressive: wearing a headscarf or excluding those who do?” . If this teacher and Afghanistan advisor/minister had tried to get a job as a sales clerk at Abercrombie and Fitch in the United States, Ms. Ludin might have been part of a headscarf case before the US Supreme Court this spring.
Street Artist Gaia typically studies the society and culture in which he paints murals and depicts figures who reflect the history and forces of change and stasis that characterize that neighborhood, town, or city. A leader in what we’ve been calling the New Muralism, Gaia has produced these amalgams of symbols, history, and persons – these glocalized paintings – around the world in cities from Seoul to Perth to Honolulu to Baltimore to Miami and Johannesburg, among others in the the last five years.
Since his earliest days as a Street Artist in Williamsburg and Bushwick, Brooklyn, Gaia has engaged the personal, social and political with his artistic ability; first as linotype prints, later as full-blown aerosol murals. So it is no surprise that he chooses as his subject for this show a figure who has held a pivotal role in the evolution of a necessary conversation in classrooms, boardrooms, courts – and the court of public opinion. It is here in the public sphere that Gaia has always drawn inspiration and energy and returned it back with an impetus to spark examination, discussion and debate.
“The proposal for ‘Persons of Interest’ features a portrait of Fereshta Ludin superimposed over a sky and images of peace,” Gaia says. “I chose to focus on Fereshta Ludin because of her advocation for multicultural understanding and cooperation in the face of intense national debate regarding the sphere of religious expression in German politics.”