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Art Gallery presents ‘Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous’

Published on August 11, 2021

Art Gallery presents ‘Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous’

Exhibition features 14 Iranian-American women artists

Tatlin's Tower
"Tatlin's Tower & 520 West 28th Condo" by Zahra Nazari

The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous” from Aug. 23–Oct. 8. The first exhibition of the fall 2021 semester features 14 Iranian-American artists whose mixed works explore the diasporic dualities of Iranian immigrants and challenge people’s perceptions of Iran.

An opening reception will take place Sept. 9 from 4–6 p.m., preceded by an artist talk with Arghavan Khosravi at 3 p.m. in the Art Gallery. The events are open and free to the public. 

“‘Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous’ is an exhilarating exploration of the work of 14 women artists of Iranian descent who challenge American media’s myopic, exclusive, laser-like focus on extremism and religion within the Iranian experience,” said Julia Wintner, coordinator of gallery and museum services at Eastern. “Their art embodies a democratic ecosystem where resistance is nurtured and alternative destinies are proclaimed.”

The exhibition takes its name from a line in a poem by Simin Behbahani, an influential poet known as the “Lioness of Iran” for her fierce defense of human rights and voice of dissent in pre- and post-revolution Iran. The poem is a response to the bloody Iran-Iraq War, which ended in 1988 after eight years of conflict.

“Though they work within the American branch of the Western art canon, these artists’ work is deeply inflected by memories of a land to which most fear returning,” said Wintner. “They negotiate their own distinct positions, whether aesthetic or political, and do so in a privileged landscape — America. While politics is key to understanding much of their work, and its reception, they deal with politics indirectly through poignant and exquisite imagery. These artists draw from a rich aesthetic tradition to convey political messages. They converse in a seductive language that may be understood across geographic and cultural boundaries.”

Speaking to similar sentiments of immigrants from other embattled nations, Wintner related the current exhibition to her native Russia: “We are diasporists, fleeing haunting memories and reflecting on the complexity of our allegiances.”

“Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous” features Samira Abbassy, Minoo Emami, Roya Farassat, Azadeh Hussaini, Arghavan Khosravi, Azita Moradkhani, Yasaman Moussavi, Zahra Nazari, Nazarin Noroozi, Leila Pazooki, Afarin Rahmanifar, Bahar Sabzevari, Leila Seyedzadeh and Anahita Vossoughi.

The Art Gallery is located in the Fine Arts Instructional Center and is open Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. and weekends by appointment. For more information, contact or visit

Written by Michael Rouleau