The Journey (سفر)
The Journey (سفر) is inspired by “The Conference of Birds” (“Mantegh o Teir”), a Persian poem by 12th-century Iranian Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar, also known as Attar Neyshaburi. In the poem, a hoopoe, a bird common in Africa, Asia, and Europe, leads the other birds on a journey to find the truth of life from Simurgh, a mythical bird in Iranian mythology and literature. At the end of the journey, the birds discover that the truth they were looking for is within themselves, and together, they are the Simurgh.
The poem and the mural reflect the seven valleys that each individual travels in a quest to find answers among the chaos of life. It begins with love and compassion, which encourage new ways of being. The poem asks the questions: How can we understand this life? Why are we in this world and on this journey? What is our role in this life? How did our ancestors perceive this life? What are our perceptions of truth?
From love, The Journey (سفر) leads us to look for wisdom, asking who or what has the knowledge or understanding to guide us throughout this journey? How can we detach ourselves from the material world? How can we forgive and let go of things we are not able to control? How can we find this understanding within ourselves? And how can this wisdom lead us to be united, to stand together, to be as one, disregarding our differences? How do we find this light and realize we are part of the whole, and all one in the universe, made from the same material? Finally, the poem leads us to understand that each of us is a reflection of the other.
- The Valley of Quest
- The Valley of Love and Compassion
- The Valley of Understanding, Wisdom
- The Valley of Independence and Detachment
- The Valley of Unity
- The Valley of Wondering, Astonishment, and Bewilderment
- The Valley of Nothingness
This mural was created in conversation with the residents of the Fulton Street Safe Sleeping Village and Urban Alchemy.
About the Artists
Keyvan Shovir is a Bay Area–based Iranian American multidisciplinary artist and muralist. As a pioneer of street art in Tehran, he used Persian calligraphy and poetry to addressed social and political issues. His sculptural sound installations, murals, and paintings explore the poetic experience of the current political situation with narration rooted in Persian literature, history, myth, and language and today’s pop culture. Shovir received his B.A. in painting from Azad Tabriz University of Tabriz, Iran, and his M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He has received many awards and has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Seyhoun Gallery in Tehran, SOMArts Culture Center and Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, and Graffik Gallery in London.
Shaghayegh Cyrous is a Bay Area–based Iranian American multidisciplinary and social practice artist and curator. She creates poetic multimedia installations and interactive performances focusing on cross-cultural communication and translation strategies, addressing predicaments of estrangement and distance caused by political and cultural power dynamics. Cyrous received her B.A. in visual arts from Science and Culture University in Tehran and her M.F.A. in social practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She has exhibited and performed internationally at venues including the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Saba Museum of Tehran, Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, British Museum in London, and the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska.