An American Artist Immortalizes Neda

Author: posted in Our Archive on 2009-10-09 01:21:51

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One dreadful day, the bullet of a henchman of tyranny pierced the young heart of Neda Agha Sultan, and she collapsed on the pavement, gasped for air as her crimson blood painted the black asphalt. Her music teacher along with a young doctor tried desperately to revive her. They kept frantically telling her not to be afraid, not to be afraid. The music teacher was witnessing the death of his young student and all he could do was to breathe encouragement in the vain hope of keeping her alive. Her mouth began to spurt blood and her eyes rolled to the side. As people crowded around her in screams and wails, she stared peacefully into the cell phone camera that captured the final moments of her life.

Neda, the young and beautiful freedom-loving Iranian music student was slain in cold-blood by the current Islamic regime in Iran. Almost instantly, Neda became, not only the divine call of the Iranian revolution, but she symbolized the call for liberty around the world.   Like millions of people around the globe who were profoundly saddened by the untimely death of a young and innocent Iranian woman, the Master Sculptor, Paula Slater, was also deeply affected by the death of Neda on that graphic video. In fact, waves of human soul cried out loud for the injustice in Iran. This was the moment of unity, people of all races, classes and nationalities became one people and one voice in expressing their revulsion at the barbarity of a murdering regime and its savage henchmen. No sooner the final shovels of dirt covered the precious body of Neda that on the other side of the world Paula—a distinguished artist and daughter of humanity – devoted endless hours sculpting a bust of the murdered young woman. No one commissioned this talented artist, no one even asked her to do the magnificent work of immortalizing Neda. The sensitive artist later reported: “My schedule was packed with Public Art commissions to complete, but I was so saddened by the tragic events in Iran that I needed to turn the pain I felt into art before I could proceed with my other sculpting projects.” “Paula Slater is a full-time professional sculptor and has been awarded many important commissioned monuments and prestigious bronze portraits installed throughout the United States and Canada.  Believing in the old-world ideal of 'nothing rushed or left undone', she gives the time needed to bring each exquisite detail to life. This generous giving of time is rare in the art world today, setting her sumptuous sculptures apart and elevating the demand for her fine art ever higher.” She started to sculpt a life size portrait bust of Neda, also known as “The Angel of Iran,” based on the photo that was released the day of her murder. It was the photo with the veil. She presented the first bronze bust at a rally, organized by a group called “United 4 Iran,” on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. It was Paula’s divine call. She wanted to memorialize the fallen Persian martyr. Only the spark of talent and genius can produce beauty and true art of lasting value. The second portrait bust of Neda— she says, “It is 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 she is radiating the hope of her people for a free Iran.   In an interview with Radio Free Europe, Paula was asked how she came up with the idea of making a sculpture in Neda's honor: “Well, you know, I saw the videotape of the shooting of Neda and it just touched me so deeply. It was like a shot to the heart. And what I do when I'm feeling a lot of pain is sculpt, and I thought I just needed to sculpt her. I need to turn this pain that I'm feeling into art and I just wanted to sculpt her portrait and to show my solidarity with the people in Iran,” she replied. Slater goes on to say, “I am normally a commission sculptor, however, I chose to sculpt the first portrait of Neda and to donate it so that we could have a memorial for her in the U.S.--the present government in Iran banned Neda's family from holding a memorial for her, but they can't stop us from having one here.” Paula was overwhelmed by so many loving e-mails she received by Iranians all over the world in appreciations of Neda’s sculptures that she started to sculpt another life size portrait bust of a 19-year-old fallen martyr, Sohrab Arabi, to represent all the brave young male heroes who have given their lives in this revolution for freedom and human rights in Iran.  “I feel that I have become joined at the heart with the Iranian people and I want to continue to do all that I can to help, because I believe that the only way bad people can win is if good people aren't willing to stand up to them,” says Paula. For the most part, Slater’s sculptures capture and set forth a message with the force of a sudden wind storm. And the sculpture of Neda breaks free from formality and brings one quickly into a realm of light and spirit, which only folded, hammered, heated and burnished bronzes can do. Paula’s work directs, without speaking. She is considered by many art lovers one of the best sculptors in the country. This talented American artist has an eye for detail and her powerful compositions are capturing the attention of art enthusiasts worldwide. Her skill with bronze sculpture vividly captures the spirit and movement of her subjects, both in human sculpture and animal sculpture, and only is surpassed by her sensitive attention to detail. Paula is deservedly celebrated for the compelling realism of her bronze sculpture. We salute Paula Slater, by all accounts, for distinguishing herself as a tireless and devoted artist who stands for freedom, justice and liberty. We salute Master Sculptor, Paula Slater, for her stand on the right side of history at this critical juncture and for lending her invaluable support to the people of Iran.

Whilst we mourn Neda’s passing, let us celebrate her life through the hands of a brilliant artist, Paula Slater. Paula’s devotion to sculpture has been acknowledged through the awards and recognitions that have been bestowed upon her and her work.  And she really wanted to donate her time and talents to immortalize Neda's image in bronze. “These two portraits of Neda are gifts 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," says Paula. Here is our message to you dear Paula: We, free Iranian expatriates as well as the diverse people of Iran, express our deepest appreciation for your magnificent work and support. You have energized us by your passion, compassion and the beautiful creation of Neda’s sculptures. You have given us great courage and hope to continue our struggle for freedom and justice in Iran. We will meet any challenge and pay any price to defeat tyranny and we will not rest until Iran is completely free of the despotic rule of the Mullahs.