The Freedom Sculpture gifted by Iranian-Americans to los Angeles takes on a new meaning during Iranian protests

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The Freedom Sculpture gifted by Iranian-Americans to los Angeles takes on a new meaning during Iranian protests
Hundreds of scarves and ribbons are being tied to the Los Angeles landmark in solidarity with the #WomanLifeFreedom movement in Iran.

LOS ANGELES.- The current uprisings in Iran have inspired local artists to revitalize a city landmark, the Freedom Sculpture, gifted by Iranian-Americans to the city of Los Angeles as a symbol of the universal ideals of human rights, that started with Cyrus the Great of ancient Iran, and were enshrined in the U.S. constitution by the Founding Fathers of America.

A few simple acts have transformed this iconic Los Angeles landmark into a living symbol of solidarity with the Iranian people who are fighting for their freedom in Iran. It started with Los Angeles-based artist and activist Kurosh ValaNejad who pasted decals on the base of the Freedom Sculpture that read “SAY MY NAME: MAHSA AMINI, BE MY VOICE.” This act became the seed for an ongoing movement around the monument, when Los Angeles artist Nushin Sabet tied a veil to the monument near the decals.

“I had been forced to wear this veil in Iran, due to the compulsory hijab laws over there. So, tying it to the Freedom Sculpture and seeing my veil blowing freely in the wind was a way of sending my hopes and wishes to the courageous women and people of Iran as they fight for these basic freedoms that we take for granted here in America.”

Since then hundreds of Angelenos have tied more veils, scarves and ribbons on the Freedom Sculpture, organically reshaping it as it stands on busy Santa Monica Blvd in Century City. With every veil the monument becomes a more lively and vibrant reflection of support for the people of Iran, helping build public awareness and a sense of community for all who pass by.

Executive Director of Farhang Foundation, Alireza Ardekani, says, “Farhang Foundation stands united in support of all Iranians. We are inspired by the artists and people who are attaching their veils to the Freedom Sculpture in support of the #WomanLifeFreedom movement in Iran. These veils, blowing freely in the wind, remind us that the ideals of freedom and respect for cultural diversity originated with Cyrus the Great of Iran more than 2,500 years ago.”

The Freedom Sculpture

Gifted by Farhang Foundation to the City of Los Angeles in 2017, the Freedom Sculpture, a monumental public artwork dedicated to freedom and diversity, is a beloved symbol of the city’s cultural diversity and inclusiveness. The sculpture, a permanent fixture on Santa Monica Blvd in Century City, is by Cecil Balmond. He designed it as a modern-day interpretation of the Cyrus Cylinder, a document created in Iran 2,500 years ago that is considered one of the inspirations for the freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. October 29 is considered an unofficial Iranian holiday reserved as Cyrus the Great Day.

The 15-foot-high, 20-foot-long sculpture consists of a cylinder within a cylinder, held aloft by two parallel circles. The cylinders appear lace-like, echoing the Akkadian cuneiform script of the Cyrus Cylinder. The internal cylinder is gold—symbolizing the eternal value of this treasured message—and the outer element is silver. By day, the silver exterior glints in the L.A. sun; at night, the gold interior glows with the help of LED lights in the sculpture’s two circles—a luminous beacon in one of the most diverse cities in the world.

The installation of The Freedom Sculpture included a city-wide celebration held on July 4, 2017. The event welcomed over 75,000 attendees, including the sculpture’s artist, Cecil Balmond; a proclamation by Gov. Jerry Brown; and support by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Farhang Foundation spearheaded the event and gifted the sculpture to the city of Los Angeles on behalf of Iranians everywhere. The member-supported, non-religious, non-political, non-profit Farhang Foundation was established in 2008, and celebrates and promotes Iranian art and culture.

You can learn more about history of the Freedom Sculpture by visiting The monumental installation and celebration in 2017 was featured in Associated Press, LA Weekly, ABC, NBC, KTLA, BBC, CBS, UNIVISION KIRN, NPR, KNX, KPCC among others, including the front page of Los Angeles Times' CALIFORNIA on July 5th, highlighting the message of diversity and freedom.

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