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Art Gallery welcomes patrons to ‘Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous’

Published on September 14, 2021

Art Gallery welcomes patrons to ‘Our Tears Are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous’

Exhibition features 14 Iranian-American women artists

Opening reception

Arghavan Khosravi gives an artist talk on the gallery's opening day.

Gallery patrons gaze at "Golding age" by Bahar Sabzevari.

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Art Gallery held an opening reception for “Our Tears are Sweet, Our Laughter Venomous” on Sept. 9. The first exhibition of the fall 2021 semester highlights 14 Iranian-American women who use art to tackle politics and misconceptions about Iran and challenge the restrictions placed against them. The opening included a talk by featured artist Arghavan Khosravi. The exhibition is free and open to the public until Oct. 8. 

Art pieces range from metal sculptures, wood and canvas, to paper, pencil and more. This exhibition not only brings awareness to the oppression that women face in Iran, but also the revolt and defense these artists are demonstrating through the meanings behind their art. The reception opened with a welcoming by Julia Wintner, coordinator of gallery and museum services, who introduced Khosravi.

Arghavan Khosravi
Featured artist and keynote speaker Arghavan Khosravi poses next to her art.

Khosravi began her presentation by giving insight into what her inspirations are. “I was born soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, so in general, my practice is reflecting on my memories and life experiences from Iran.”

The 1979 Islamic Revolution was a sequence of events that were carried out to overthrow the Iranian royal dynasty. Khosravi then began to talk about religion and how it does not resonate with her. “There are a lot of restrictions based on religion,” said Khosravi, “but I think it’s like using religion as a tool, not actually religion itself.”

Khosravi continued by describing the process of how she completes her artwork. Highlighting one of her art pieces on display titled “Compulsory Halo,” Khosravi used acrylic, canvas and wood block printed textile.

Afarin Rahminifar
Afarin Rahminifar, featured artist and professor of art and art history at Eastern, poses with her artwork.

“Since I can remember, there has always been a battle between traditional ideas, modern ideas, religious ideas, secular ideas and so on. People like me and my family do not believe those ideas.”

Speaking of the textile in her piece “Compulsory Halo," she said, “I decided to choose this fabric.. I unconsciously started to think about my relationship to religion.” 

Art Professor Afarin Rahmanifar served as co-curate for the exhibition. She's also an Iranian American and one of the show's featured artists. “This exhibition aims to give a global insight to national and international audiences to the rich and exceptional Iranian women artists who are voluntarily absent from home and country. I’m honored to be part of this wonderful exhibition. I’ve had this idea for a long time and now it’s happening, and I’m thrilled.”

Rahmanifar’s teaching interests include painting, drawing, mixed media, design and illustration. “My work is an expression of my life’s journey… I take great interest in investigating women’s historic roles involving works of poetry to amplify contemporary women’s voice, power and Identity.”

Roya Farassat

Featured artist Roya Farassat poses next to one of her creations.             

The event continued with a speech from President Elsa Núñez, thanking everyone who was able to attend. “I’m not an artist myself but I do have a deep love for art,” said Núñez. “I have a history of being from a very poor family, so I wasn’t exposed to art as a young child. I discovered that I have a great passion and appreciation for the work that artists do.”

The next speaker was Provost William Salka. “This exhibition is exactly what our students need at this time,” said Salka. “We have artists here who are really depicting art that shows the two lives many of them have lived. One life was in Iran where some of them endured harsh conflicts in a war-torn country, unlike anything our students can imagine. There are many people out there who have faced much greater adversity than our students probably will ever face in their lifetime.”

Lamar Coleman, vice president for equity and diversity, also spoke. “When it comes to art, I align it with diversity that comes with art because someone can look at a visual representation and come up with their own diverse ideas and thoughts.”

The title of the exhibition stems from a line in a poem by Simin Behbahani, the national poet of Iran. The poem “Our tears are sweet” is about the long-running war between Iran and Iraq and the amount of deaths that occurred within those years.

To view the art pieces on display visit

“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 Bobbi Brown