NEW YORK — Marthalicia Matarrita is a Latina artist from New York City. Although her life is a world away from Iran, Ms. Matarrita’s artwork connected her with Education is Not a Crime, a street art campaign to raise awareness of the denial of education to Baha’i students in Iran.
It is a formally instituted state policy of the Iranian government to ban the Baha’is, Iran’s largest religious minority, from teaching and studying in universities.
Ms. Matarrita was born and raised in Harlem, a historic New York City neighborhood known as a center of African-American and Hispanic life and culture. Because of her own experience struggling with institutionalized injustice as she was pursuing an education in the city, Ms. Matarrita forged a personal connection with the stories of the Baha’i students for whom she painted a mural on a public school in Harlem.
Her mural—a child and a flower symbolizing the seed that education plants—is just one of many across Harlem and around the world calling for equality through art as part of the Education is Not a Crime campaign.
The story of the unusual street art campaign and the history of the human rights issue behind it are captured in the new documentary Changing the World, One Wall at a Time.