Forgotten Identity


Artist Statement

The mysterious veiled Iranian women that captured my attention since I was a little girl continue to pop into my mind. Going out with my mom and seeing these dark veils everywhere pressed in on me even then. I grew up playing with these forms in my subconscious. Coming to the United States and working in a totally different environment and culture, I decided to use my art to unfold the story of women from the Middle East.  

The installation metaphorically represents the female presence in the society. Femininity is a social construct that both hinders and empowers and I try to cover these aspects of womanhood in my work. The work represents women’s lives where there is no justification for the cruelty that has come upon them and the suffering that dominates their daily duties, while the multitudinous number of figures points to the beginning of a movement.

The materials chosen in my work convey a message and they have a strong contender of how I share my thoughts. Historically, paper has been used as a medium to deliver messages. This ancient print medium has become a surface for my vision – a place that I can visualize my own imagination. The main ingredient in making papers is cellulose fiber which can be extracted from a diverse natural resource. In my work, I used hand-made rag papers made from cotton fiber, and the fiber is extracted from chador[1]. The Chador fiber is processed into the paper pulp, which is used to make paper sheets then allowed to dry into forms of women’s figure.

I collected chadors that have been used by women and used them as ingredient to make my papers, and then used the papers to make chador again. My intension is actually using the paper as the most effective medium in the history to tell my story, and at the same time, using the chador fabric to make this medium. The paper made figures are like narrators that shrill the hidden voice of millions of women who deserve a better life.

Human figures are formed as crumpled papers. They are light weighted but their dark color has increased their visual volume. The whole work is like a motion picture – marvelous figures that move in all directions. The hanging piece descends like a waterfall from the top to the bottom and turns into a static carpet on the ground. It invites the viewers to get close and then leaves them with the colors that lurk and hide amongst the black surface of the paper. By using the black color in my work, I delineate the infinite number of colors that have been concealed in the darkness. This vivid set of beautiful colors needs to be pulled out of the women’s life!

Each figure is a storyteller which rehearses the colorful mind of the women the chadors are borrowed from.

[1] Chador is the all-encompassing black cloth Iranian women wear to disguise their figures, to hide their body.