The ArtLords curate a night of Afghan food and film at Epsilon Spires
A member of the ArtLords works on a section of a mural on High Street in Brattleboro.

The ArtLords curate a night of Afghan food and film at Epsilon Spires

BRATTLEBORO — Celebrate the completion of the new mural on High Street with an evening of Afghan culture curated by the ArtLords, a grassroots collective of refugees displaced by the Taliban who use art to encourage political activism and social transformation.

The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Epsilon Spires and will feature Afghan cuisine alongside a screening of The Breadwinner, a full-length animated film about a family's struggle for women's rights in Kabul.

“I selected this film to use as a tool for the voice of Afghanistan's people, because people in Afghanistan are not in safe hands right now,” Abdullah, a member of the ArtLords (who only use their first names in the press in order to protect their identities), said in a news release.

Abdullah was born in Panjshir, Afghanistan, then migrated to Pakistan where he studied painting, traditional calligraphy, Persian miniatures, and taught English as a second language. He then moved back to Kabul, where he completed his bachelor's degree in computer science and began working with the ArtLords.

The Breadwinner, which was produced by Angelina Jolie, has been widely praised by critics and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2018.

“This film narrates the history of Afghanistan through the storytelling of a father to his daughter about why this land has been used for war and battle,” Abdullah says.

He adds that right now in Afghanistan “people are fighting for their really basic rights. People are suffering through poverty and hunger. They do not have jobs. There is no art, because art is evil to the Taliban.”

Members of the ArtLords assisted in painting the mural on a formerly dilapidated wall along High Street, which was designed by Calvin Laituri and Daniel Chiaccio of the community printmaking studio First Proof Press.

The project was organized by Epsilon Spires, which raised more than $8,000 from individual donors hailing from 13 states and three countries to fund the cross-cultural collaboration with the ArtLords. This amount was then matched two-to-one by a Better Places grant from the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

The food for the event will be cooked by members of the ArtLords, including Abdullah, Negina, Meetra, Zuhra, and Marwa.

The menu will feature mantu, a popular Afghan dish of seasoned beef dumplings topped with herbed yogurt or tomato sauce; bolani, a stuffed flatbread that can be filled with a mix of vegetables, lentils, and herbs; and chatni, a flavorful cilantro-based chutney.

“What I've found is that the community is really supportive and respectful,” Abdullah says about his experience of living in Brattleboro.

He explains that the projects the ArtLords have been involved with since moving to the region have helped them to explore and learn more about the area. “People are really friendly,” he says. “They give their time to us, and they share their knowledge and experiences.”

Funding for this event has been provided in part through a generous grant from The Arts Council of Windham County's Town Arts Fund.

Note that The Breadwinner is rated PG-13, and the film is recommended by Common Sense Media for audiences 11 (which is the age of the film's heroine) and older. Sliding scale tickets for the event are available at the door or in advance at

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