Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
My work is deeply connected to my own personal experience of the culture and politics of my homeland of Iran. I was born and raised in Iran in a nonreligious family. I experienced the first decade after the 1979 Islamic Revolution as a child. The hardliners had taken power, society suffered tremendous suppression, and Iran was at war with Iraq. My memories are filled with so many occasions in which the dominance of the oppressive regime affected my daily life, from being forced to wear a headscarf in elementary school, to being required to pray and recite the Quran at a public middle school. As a young woman, I was arrested while walking down the street in Tehran, simply because, according to the government’s definition, the hijab I was wearing didn’t cover enough of my body.
When I am in my studio here in the United States, considering what to paint next and what inspires me most, my mind fills with the rush of my memories of living in Iran. The distance I’ve gained from those repressions, both geographically and in terms of time, have allowed space for reflection. As I look at Iran’s culture from the outside, I have a strong visceral reaction to the unrighteousness of such a repressive regime. Being born and living most of your life under such circumstances makes you feel that it’s an unfair ordinary situation, but being distant from it makes you realize how extraordinarily unfair it is to have so many personal aspects of your life dictated and controlled by state power.
It is not my intention to portray myself, or people from my country, as victims, nor is it to draw sympathy form a Western audience. I am simply telling my story. For me, art is a meditative agent. The creative process fuels my imagination and helps me cope with my life traumas, alleviate their cumulative affects, and find positive aspects in them. When I pick up the brush, I feel the weight of my life experiences on my shoulders. When I put the brush to the canvas, the weight is still there, but it is lighter. My paintings represent unconscious attempts to reenact traumatic memories with the hope of achieving alternative positive outcomes—both at a personal level, and more collectively, at national and global level.
Khosravi, Arghavan, "Tightrope walking on the red lines" (2018). Masters Theses. 280.
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