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Afarin Rahmanifar - Associate Professor, Art and Art History

M.F.A., University of Connecticut


Afarin Rahmanifar“I was born and raised in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. I received my B.F.A. from Alzahra University in Tehran. I received my M.F.A. from the University of Connecticut in Painting & Drawing and Printmaking.  My love for teaching started when I started teaching in graduate school at UConn. That early teaching experience taught me the importance of creating dynamic and positive experiences for students in the classroom. I joined full time at Eastern’s Department of Art and Art History in fall 2013.”

My favorite class to teach

“Beside teaching contemporary and traditional skills in painting and drawing, teaching Mixed Media is one of the most enjoyable classes I have experienced. This painting class explores boundaries between drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, installation and printmaking. Students are encouraged to enhance their unique artistic ability, shake up their traditional studio practices and step out of their comfort zone. I dedicate time each year to mentor a great number of seniors, independent study, GER/LAC courses and honor theses.”

My research interests

“My work is bound by my experience of living in exile from Tehran, the city where I grew up, in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. My original thoughts and interests have always been with stories of women that have to do with politics, culture, religion and sexuality within suppressed societies. My research from recent decades reveals female icons. I depict women as protagonist characters in both Eastern and Western societies.

“I investigate by looking at women throughout history who have struggled to find a balance between power and grace. In the West, the Barbie doll was the iconographic image of the ‘perfect’ woman. Persian miniatures were similarly filled with images of the supposedly perfect woman; exotic and mysterious, beautiful women who were voluptuous in every sense.

“My most recent project is ‘The Women of Shahnameh,’ which seeks to engage the viewer with the examination of similarities and differences between Eastern and Western cultures. This multi-platform project consists of painting, installation and animated motion picture film. ‘The Shahnameh’ (The Book of Kings) is the world’s longest epic poem written by a single poet named Ferdowsi. The women characters in The Shahnameh become the centerpieces within my multi-platform painting project. 

“The audience that may be interested in my work is not a certain group, gender or type of person. Rather, the ‘Women of The Shahnameh’ should become familiar to all people to help reconstruct and resurrect the power of women whose stories have been largely ignored in both Eastern and Western cultures.”

Students in my Mixed Media class are encouraged to enhance their unique artistic ability, shake up their traditional studio practices and step out of their comfort zone.

Afarin Rahmanifar working with a student on their artwork

What I enjoy most about teaching at Eastern

“One of the most important aspects of teaching I have learned over the years is that each student is unique and that’s rewarding to me as a teacher. It is rewarding when I see students’ openness to experiment and it appears to motivate and develop creativity in their projects. I find Eastern a workplace to teach and learn necessary skills, and to promote positive practice.”

My teaching philosophy

“As an artist, educator and researcher, my philosophy of teaching is anchored by a personal goal to be a lifelong learner as well as a researcher. I enthusiastically support my students’ research activities. I encourage students to engage in research-based projects. I give additional time outside of the studio class to formulate and provide effective ways in relaying specific intellectual and conceptual messages for students’ projects. My emphasis in class projects is on student creativity and the development of critical thinking.”

Career advice to students

“I provide students with educational career goals, practical internships and I introduce them to conferences such as the CREATE Conference, Career Conference and COPLAC NEURSCA Conference.  In 2022-23, seven of my students were accepted and presented their successful artwork at the CREATE Conference on campus.”