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The American Islamic Congress Presents:
Immigrant Stories by Iranian Women
Featuring: Niloofar Ziae and Mitra Shavarini
Friday, April 12th
6:30 p.m-9:00 p.m.
38 Newbury Street
Persian Tea and Desserts Provided| Free and open to all
"Home & Away: Shared Narratives of Gendered Identity is a unique arts and culture series spotlighting the work of four Boston-based female artists from Iran, Pakistan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia."
AIC's “Muslim Women in the Arts Series” includes as its latest installment a discussion with artist Niloofar Ziae and author and university lecturer Dr. Mitra Shavarini on their experiences as Iranian female immigrants to the US. As part of the evening, Ziae’s artwork will be exhibited and Shavarini will read from her new memoir “Desert Roots.”
*This event was canceled on March 7th due to one of the many snowstorms we witnessed this winter.
The series aims in part to address a lack of exhibits by contemporary Muslim artists in Boston’s galleries and museums, a void that reinforces the perception that Muslim art is limited to calligraphy and rugs. In fact, Boston is home to a vibrant scene of stereotype-shattering artistic innovators from across the Muslim world. “Home and Away” showcases four diverse examples of this new paradigm of artist: female, of Muslim heritage, and shaped by complex hybrid identities - some with a hidden Jewish heritage, others with seemingly contradictory roots (e.g. Mecca and New Mexico). The shapes, colors, textures, and subject matter provides insight beyond words, offering a window into the past, and a microcosmic view of the issues and experiences that shape so many women today.
Niloo has long been an advocate for free expression in her native Tehran. As a young artist in 1980s post-revolutionary Iran, her home was as an underground sanctuary for musicians, poets, playwrights, and artists with no other space to create openly. She has served as head art teacher for Tehran’s Academy of Art and Literature, working with Aydin Aghdashloo and Ghazaleh Alizahe. In 1998, she moved to US to study at the Graduate School of Utah State University. After finishing her studies, she was hired as Gallery Coordinator in Nora Eccles Harrison
Museum of Art in Utah.
In the past, Niloo has used abstract expressionism to explore her inner states and emotions. More recently however, her paintings have included more and more figurative elements. Driven by a sense of urgency to document the rapid architectural and environmental changes
currently undergoing in Tehran, her paintings have taken on more "objective" sensitivity. By
using dynamic landscape and architectural compositions, her paintings strive to document the
architectural and environmental changes cities undergo and to communicate the sense of loss
- and the excitement and possibilities - that accompany these changes.
Niloo’s latest work connects the architecture of her home country to the American cities where
she has lived, from Utah to Massachusetts.
Mitra Shavarini is a lecturer in Women's and Gender Studies and Peace Studies at
Brandeis. She holds a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University and her
research focuses onWomen's education in Muslim Societies. Desert Roots
is her recently published memoir and has been widely praised. Shahla Haeri, Professor of Anthropology at Boston University, says of this book: “Reminiscent of the immortal 13th century Persian mystical poet, Rumi and his story of the reed, Mitra Shavarini’s Desert Roots tells of the anguish of separation and the ever-intensifying desire for return – return to one’s 'origin. ' Written with honesty and elegance, Shavarini has woven an attractive tapestry of the lives of her extended family within the context of Iranian history and culture, itself having gone through its story of upheavals and separation.'
THANK YOU SPONSORS:
This program is supported in part by a grant form the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events.
The AIC Center offers visitors a gateway to a scene of innovators and artists who explore the diversity of American Muslim identity. Overlooking the Back Bay, the center’s gleaming white interior hall includes a stage for artistic performances, business roundtables, human rights panels, and social events.