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Eastern's Gallery to Present Iranian Women Artists

Written by Jakc Meltzer



Willimantic, CT. - Beginning March 25 and running through May 6, the Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present "Chahar Ghesmat," which means "four parts" in Farsi.  The exhibit will show the work of four female Iranian and Iranian- American artists working in a variety of media (film, photography, painting, collage) to portray women in Iranian culture. The artists include Taravat Talepasand, Afarin Rahmanifar, Mina Momeni and Farideh Shahsavarani.

There will be several events during April to celebrate this exhibition.  An opening reception takes place on April 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the gallery. A screening of the movie "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud takes place on April 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. For more information on the "Persepolis" screening, visit A gallery talk by Iranian-born artist Samira Abbassy takes place on April 22 at 2:30 p.m. in the gallery. For more information on the Samira Abbassy gallery talk,  visit  For all events, the public is invited and admission is free.

American-born Talepasand is the youngest of the four artists in this exhibit.   She studied Persian miniature painting in Iran and uses ancient, traditional techniques to create thought-provoking and politically-charged imagery. Talepasand says, "Growing up Iranian in America had been arduous and awkward.  American individualism and Iranian deference to tradition were irreconcilable."  She self-describes her work as realism and renaissance painting.  Talepasand is represented by the Marx and Zavattero Gallery in San Francisco, CA.  Her art work can be viewed at

RAHMANIFAR - RECESS 1 1 HIGH RES.JPGRahmanifar, born in Iran, immigrated to America after the Iranian revolution more than 30 years ago.  She now lives and works in Connecticut  and is an a part-time professor of Visual Arts at Eastern.  Rahmanifar creates collage and paintings with American consumer imagery juxtaposed with imagery from Iranian culture, such as the story of the legendary queen of Persia, Scheherazade, juxtaposed with Mattel's Barbie doll.  Her work can be viewed at Rahmanifar says, "Motivation for creating these hybrid personalities relates to how I see myself in the American society and the ongoing need to reconcile these two cultures that reflect both my past and present."

Momeni, born in Iran, now lives and works in Canada.  Her photographs are expressive and contemporary, but also circumspect and mindful of what is considered traditional, both culturally and politically. Like Rahmanifar, Momeni plays with the duality of myths about women as the "goddess of goodness" and also references traditions and stories such as that of Scheherazade.

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Momeni's use of color and symbol is dramatic, however--mirrors, geraniums, pomegranates, flashes of colors and expressions often reference both traditional Iranian literature as well as contemporary lifestyle. Momeni says, "It is too simplistic to think that it is possible to put a veil on Iranian Woman's thought forcefully, and steal the light of this modern age's intellect from her eyes." Her work can be viewed at


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Shahsavarani lives in and works in Tehran and frequently spends time in Illinois. She is a filmmaker, photographer and a professor at the Islamic Azad University in Tehran.  Like many Iranian filmmakers, Shahsavarani's work is political, confrontational and pushes at the boundaries of circumscription.  She touches on the topics of gender roles for women in Iranian culture. Shahsavarani began working more intently with film in order to "communicate more directly with the audience and to express her search for the light, the soul, the hidden meaning of life and the source of a new day."  Her work can be viewed at  

"These artists were selected based on their differing national and generational views and how their different experiences strongly influence their work and imagery," says Elizabeth Peterson, coordinator of the Akus Gallery. "Despite these differences, all create work with an opulence and richness which is very Persian. Of course, the increasingly charged political climate between Iran and the United States and a desire to shed a more thoughtful and human light on the subject, was the impetus for our developing this show."  

The Akus Gallery is located in the lower level of Shafer Hall at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information call (860) 465-4659 or visit   


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