For project 1.2, I followed the theme of my current street art project called “Silence is a War Crime.” This project addresses the topic of Syrian refugees. I made a visual using acrylics and pasted them up around the city using wheat paste. My friend, Caroline Olson, wrote a great description of the visual:
“Her eyes are glaring, ready to make contact with anyone who will stop to look. The only color in the image is the red blood that trickles down her face, a clear indication of the violence and suffering she has endured.”
I first got the idea to do this project when I was flying home to Canada for Christmas break last year. On my flight from Toronto to Regina, there were dozens of Syrian refugees. They couldn’t speak a word of English, but they were still struck me on a personal level. It was the kids with the beautiful light eyes that hit me the most. I was filled with empathy for these families who were forced to flee their homes and saw their country fall apart. But I was also filled with happiness. These families were away from the war, and now in beautiful, peaceful country.
I thought about how differently the US was going about this issue, and decided I needed to do something. I did more research on the issue in the U.S.: what the current Syrian immigration policies are and what most Americans thought about the issue. I realized that there is an extreme sense of Islamophobia in the US- a lot due to the terrorist attacks happening in and out of the country. Islamophobia is perpetuated by the media and political candidates who want to keep the refugees to preserve the safety of Americans. However, upon doing research I found out that, since 9/11, 80% of the terrorist attacks in America have been committed by US-born citizens. This means that Islamic extremism that affects the country the most, comes from those in the country. If these terrorists are converted to Islamic extremism in the country, Islamophobia and marginalization will only exacerbate the situation. I encourage you to look up more facts about the terrorist attacks to enlighten yourselves on some real issues that are not discussed in the media.
I chose the title after seeing a picture of a Syrian boy holding a sign with “Silence is a War Crime” written on it. After looking it up, I saw that this line led to many pictures and facts on the Syrian crisis. On Instagram, when you looking up #silenceisawarcrime you will see some pictures that depict the effects of the crisis, along with my work pasted around Philly.
I hope that when people see my street art, they will also look it up, and it would lead to productive discussions and inspire people to look up the real facts. Change is impossible without awareness.