Pendulum of Identity: Mixed Media

Artist Statement

Growing up in Iran, a cultural plethora of ornaments and patterns, as a child, I have always been engaged with patterns in so many places—mosques, historical buildings, in the streets, and even in our small house where I saw them on the carpets. I reckon the best way to embrace the sophisticated Persian culture with all its complexities is by looking at the interplay between a set of classic patterns. To me, ceramics, as my dominant material, and textiles are very nostalgic, thus I decided to apply them in my work because they are a physical expression of my cultural background. Besides, soil is a boundless natural matter found everywhere, and my forms are raised from the soil to challenge the relationship between identities within a global context.

My work represents observations of an identity, shifting between two geographical contexts, while sexuality is the silent power-holder. My artwork is a pendulum that oscillates between defining these distinctive areas, on one hand, and finding the common ground between them, on the other hand. The latter part accentuates blurring borders, for we, as human beings, are not subject to our ancestors in terms of political and geographical borders. As I entered the transitory space in between Persian and American culture, I found that the formation of my identity-perception has become fractured. While my personal identity is strongly tied to my gender identity, other people often illustrate my identity through nationality. I scrutinize this disjuncture and seek answers to questions such as: to what extent is identity voluntary? Or is it obligatory? Do the geographical borders and political boundaries impose power over our identities? Can we alter the power system among the layers? Is it within our abilities to change this system? If it is, how deep can we delve into those layers? In some of my work I’ve added the architectural connotation of my sensation of belonging to home. They manifest the places where I used to live and their traces in my memory. The spaces that are dramatically fading, both in my mental map as well in their physical place in Iran, are undergoing vast and rapid developments. Further, I aim at projecting body anatomy by means of architectural forms, and to explore the position of body as an integral part of the building. I attempt to embody the identity issue in my work by using different symbols, but my main concentration is on the forms, shapes, and patterns that construct the most significant part of my memory.

My personal life and experiences are represented throughout my art works. It is not that I want my paintings and sculptures to convey some specific message to propose a common knowledge; but, rather, I want the audience to feel what they crave in themselves by the means of my art pieces. From 2015, when I arrived in the United States and began experiencing living in a liminal space between Iranian and American cultures, I have continued my works based on the identity issues. My works represent an observation of an identity shifting between two geographical contexts while sexuality remains the silent power holder.

Born in Iran in 1984, I received a BFA in handicrafts from Shiraz University in 2006, an MA in art studies from Tehran University of Art in 2010, and an MFA in painting and drawing from Pennsylvania State University in 2017. I have held multiple group and solo exhibitions in multiple locations, in both Iran and United States. Currently I am working at Pennsylvania State University as a fixed-term instructor.