Art has the power to move us, inspire us and challenge us to see the world in new ways. Few artists embody the power of art along with El Seed, the French-Tunisian street artist whose calligraphy-based murals have been wowing audiences around the world for years.

Seed's work is not just visually stunning but his intricate use of Arabic calligraphy and other traditional techniques is a testament to the beauty and richness of his cultural heritage and also a reminder of the power of language to connect everyone to their past and to each other.  His work is also deeply emotional, tapping into the human experience in a way that is at once universal and deeply personal.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in his famous Perception mural in Cairo, Egypt. The mural, which covers the side of a large apartment building in the city's Manshiyat Naser neighbourhood, is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. It reads: "Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eyes first." The message holds great power, serving as a reminder that even in the bleakest of circumstances, there exists the potential to alter one's outlook, redirect attention and discover optimism.

The power of the mural is not solely derived from its message, but also from the mere fact of its existence. The Manshiyat Naser neighbourhood is often overlooked or stigmatized, seen as a place of poverty and neglect. It has been dubbed the “Garbage City” by locals, housing over 60,000 “Zabaleen,” (garbage-men in Arabic). Nevertheless,  through his art, Seed has transformed this space into something beautiful that commands attention and respect. In an interview with Emily Mcdermott, Seed went into detail about what the goal behind his calligraphy was; “I'm trying to create artwork that makes people, and myself, think about judgment as a reflex. This is something that must be changed,” he stated.  He has given voice to a community that is often ignored and shown that even the most marginalized among us have something to say.

Lost Walls by El Seed in Tunisia. The response to EL Seed's project on the Jara mosque's tower in his hometown of Gabes inspired him to embark on a month-long solo trip across his motherland, painting "Lost Walls" along the way. Image courtesy of El Seed

Through his murals Seed aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Reduced Inequalities which aims to decrease disparities both within and among countries. Through his art, Seed addresses issues of discrimination, prejudice and ostracism and helps to give voice to shunned communities that might otherwise go unheard. He celebrates cultural heritage and promotes greater understanding between different groups, creating beautiful and meaningful spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Mirrors of Babel in Toronto by El Seed. The Arabic version of "Prairie Greyhounds" (1903), a two-part poem by the revered Mohawk author, performer, and poet E. Pauline Johnson, served as the inspiration for the calligraphic architecture's material. Image courtesy of El Seed.

It's this ability to connect with people on an emotional level that makes Seed's work so compelling. Whether he's creating a mural in Tunisia or in Paris, his art speaks to something deep within individuals’ desire for connection, understanding, for meaning. His work serves as a reminder that every individual is part of a larger human family. Embracing differences and celebrating commonalities among all can lead to the creation of a better world for present and future generations.

In the end, El Seed's art is not just beautiful, it's transformative. It has the power to move, inspire and remind individuals of what's truly important in life. In a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming, the gift of inspiration is much needed.

You can support artists like El Seed by purchasing their work or attending their exhibitions. Keep in mind that every action, regardless of its size, has the potential to contribute to the creation of a more equitable and unbiased world.

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