The street art campaign “Education Is Not A Crime” (#NotACrime) brought together artists from around the globe to create 15 murals in Harlem, New York City to raise awareness of the human rights struggle facing Iran’s religious minority, the Baha’is – specifically their denied access to higher education. In an effort to bring this reality to light, each mural represents the power of education, creating a call to action for equal access for everyone.
One of the largest murals for the #NotaCrime campaign is painted on the back of the Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Harlem. Created by the Brooklyn based female street artist, Elle, the 60’x 20′ mural depicts two women whose faces are actually collages of other women of all different ethnicities, representing commonality across humanity. One of the women in the mural is reading a book, with the acronym BIHE printed on the cover, which is the acronym for the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education, a secret university in Iran established by Baha’is. Elle’s mural not only raises awareness of the Baha’is’ struggle for equal rights but also speaks to a myriad of social injustices stemming from a lack of access to education.
Elle is known for using her art as a platform to speak up for equality, women’s rights and access to education. In a previous interview from Konbini, Elle expresses why she was inspired to create this mural for #NotACrime campaign:
“We should all be able to pursue our dreams. Why are we suppressing people because we have different beliefs and are minorities? Education lifts people out of poverty. Education is enlightenment. The only way to fight discrimination is through education.”