Call for Submissions: The Geometry Box Project for Malala Yousafzai

Heidi Phelps, the founder of Wayward Broad Studio, created a participatory art project to make a collective statement about how women have the right to education and free expression. The project was created in response to the shooting of a young Pakistani girl, who is now in critical condition for "promoting secularism." Phelps is now accepting submissions of artwork through Thursday, October 19 to raise awareness about the incident. Details below.

The Story:

Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old girl from Pakistan, was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in the northwestern Swat Valley for “promoting secularism.” She is alive but remains in critical condition. If she survives, the Taliban will attempt to kill her again.

Malala was shot for speaking out on behalf of her female peers and sticking up for their right to education.

Malala gained attention for her activism at age 11, when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Using the pen name Gul Makai, she wrote about suffering caused by militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley in 2007 and ordered girls’ schools to close. An excerpt from her diary from 2009 reads:

"I felt hurt on opening my wardrobe and seeing my uniform, school bag and geometry box. Boys’ schools are opening tomorrow. But the Taliban have banned girls’ education."

The Taliban were ousted from Swat in 2009, but her family said they had regularly received death threats.  They thought she would be safe in her own community, but she was shot as she returned home from school.

The Project:

It’s understandable to feel frustrated, angry and helpless when we read a story like this.  We can’t heal her wounds, we can’t take away her pain. But we can collectively show our support for and solidarity with Malala as fellow women, educators, students and activists.  We can make a collective statement that women have the right to education and free expression, and that women cannot, will not, and should not be silenced.

Inspired by the excerpt from Malala’s diary from 2009, Wayward Broad Studio is collecting as many “geometry boxes” as possible that are made by women (hand-painted, digital images, paintings, sculptures, etc.) Images of each project will be posted online in a single electronic gallery, as a collective show of support, empathy and solidarity.

How to Submit:

Paint/draw/sculpt your interpretation of a “geometry box” and email a photo of it to

Deadline: Thursday, October 18 at 11:59 p.m.

You can accompany your work with as much info as you wish.  Suggested info: first name, city and state.

Heidi Phelps, founder of Wayward Broad Studio, will create a page and post all submissions online on Thursday. Nothing else will be done with any of the works - they belong to each individual artist. The goal is to collect them to make a statement and generate discussion.

This is open to women and girls of all ages, and of all artistic skill levels. Submissions can include anything from a quick pencil drawing on a Post-It to a scanned image of a sculpture or painting.