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About the Artist
This series of paintings reflect my experience growing up as a woman
within the Iranian diaspora in America. I was conceived months before the
revolution in Iran and was born in Los Angeles, California in 1979.
I spent the revolution in my mother's stomach.
In those 9 months, my parents left Tehran to live in America like many other
Iranians. I was raised in the San Francisco Bay area and now live in the
city of San Francisco. I have a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies
with emphasis in International Relations. I speak Farsi fluently, although I
am now learning to read and write the Farsi language, just approaching fifth
grade reading level, according to my grandmother. I am an avid lover of
Iranian poetry, especially when read aloud.
My experience of being an Iranian woman has been an experience of embracing
contradictions. I feel that my own hybrid identity has taken shape through
constantly living through and embracing the opposite frameworks of two
worlds I live within. This is the nature of my paintings.
The subjects of my artwork are Iranian women, some of them younger, some of
them old, some deceased, some of them live in America, some of them live in
Iran. It does not matter to me because they all tell the same story. It is
the narrative of the Iranian woman as I experience her, symbolically,
metaphorically and in her own surrealism.
Ode to Forough Farrokhzad
This painting is an ode to an Iranian poet I have immense respect for.
My mother always said to me that
one of the first female Iranian poets to express herself sensually as a
woman, to question and express sexual female desire in a society where such
desire was not expressed openly and publicly, but suppressed. The poem
behind her is her own poem. The first line reads "Nobody is thinking about
the flowers". This poem is read as a deep cultural critique written in the
1970's, symbolized by a family that does not notice, or does not react to a
garden within their home that is dying.
Date: 26 March 2003
Work by: Mona Shomali