Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Sculpture of Neda

Neda Acknowledged in Obama Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance

"...This award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity - for the young woman who marches silently in
the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses
to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace."
Comment to follow next week

New Sculpture of Neda

As the world witnessed the bloody body of Neda, her open eyes and final call, Paula Slater, an American sculptor created a bust of Neda’s scarfed head that is displayed in San Francisco. At the time, Ms. Slater explained that she did not have a photo of Neda with the veil, but that she intended to create another piece once she sound a photo with her hair unveiled.

Ms Slater kept her promise and the the new sculpture was revealed in San Francisco on 12 September at the Palace of Fine Arts.

During the ceremony it was stated "When an unjust ruler dies, his or her ruling days are over. But when a martyr dies, he or she begins to rule. This is Neda's story. She died for the freedom of Iran, becoming a symbol and ruler of every heart.

Celebrated American sculptor, Paula Slater, made headlines in July when she sculpted a life size portrait bust of Neda 'Angel of Iran' to memorialize the fallen martyr. Neda Agha-Soltan was the lovely young Iranian woman who was shot in the heart by an Iranian Government sniper while on her way to an election protest. "The positive outpouring from people around the world, and especially from Iranians, was incredible," says the sculptor. "My website received half a million hits in the first four days after photographs of the portrait sculpture appeared on the internet." She also received requests for interviews from Radio Free Europe, Pars TV, Channel 5 News and many other radio programs, newspapers and internet blogs and columns.

Neda's mother and brother also phoned ParsTV from Iran while the station was airing an interview with Ms. Slater. The

station owner said that Neda's mother cried and said she loved the portrait sculpture of her daughter and to thank the sculptor for creating it. Slater says, "That may well have been a very risky thing for Neda's family to do. Neda's fiance, Caspian Makan, was arrested after speaking out about Neda's death, and Amnesty International said 'it fears Makan may be tortured or receive other ill-treatment, given the pattern of human rights violations in Iran following the election.' It is a terrifying time in Iran for the brave freedom fighters who have been challenging the archaic leadership in their country."

So why has the sculptor created a second portrait bust of Neda? Slater explains, "The response to the first portrait sculpture was overwhelming and very loving. However, I also received many passionate requests asking me to sculpt a portrait of Neda without her wearing the hejab/scarf--which women in Iran are forced to wear when in public. So this second portrait is of the face on the other side of the coin. The first sculpture was a historical portrait of Neda "Angel of Iran". It showed a strong and proud Neda whose spirit could not be broken by an oppressive dictatorship under which she lived and died. However, this second sculpture is of Neda "the Angel of Freedom" with her hair uncovered and radiating the hope of her people for a free Iran. It is a more intimate portrait, based on a photograph of Neda taken by her fiance, in which she was free to show her vulnerability and innocence. On the base, Slater sculpted 'Angel of Freedom' in Farsi above Neda's name and in English below it.

The sculptor says she will be unveiling and donating this second portrait bust of Neda, once it is cast in bronze, at the Celebrating Iranian Women Conference in Washington, D.C. in mid-November. Many important personalities and dignitaries have been invited to this conference and while it is being promoted as a tribute to Iranian women in particular, "it is also intended to be a tribute to all women of the world who are courageous enough to at least attempt to change the course of history."

Slater goes on to say, "These two portraits of Neda are a gift from my heart to the Iranian people to show my solidarity with their fight for freedom and Democracy. I want them to know they are not alone."

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Paula Slater Sculpture is owned and operated by Paula B. Slater. Slater is a professional sculptor who specializes in finely detailed realistic bronze portraits and monuments. She has been awarded many prestigious private and public art commissions.

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