Iranian Art | Culture & Leisure

The head of a bald eagle emerges from a paisley pattern and forms the background of a self-portrait by Tirazheh Eslami.

The digital work is among those by more than 50 artists in an exhibition starting Friday at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History titled “The Land of Persepolis: Introducing Persian Culture to the West”.

Eslami, the centre’s exhibitions coordinator, hopes this will introduce visitors to the galleries to the intricacies of her native Iran, which has been stereotyped by some.

The name of the exhibition comes from Persepolis, a famous archaeological site in Iran which was called Persia until 1935.

Some pieces are made by artists who, like her, are Iranian and reside in the United States. Many have been completed by Iranians who still live in the country.

Others were made by Americans who explored Persian themes with the coaching of longtime artist Eslami.

The exhibition broadens a trajectory that his work has followed for more than 10 years. Before moving to the United States in 2006 with her husband, Eslami obtained an undergraduate degree in fine arts in Iran.

After arriving in America, she began to explore her hybrid identity. She started with multimedia pieces that mixed Persian components with famous works. The presence of something familiar was meant to make Persian culture more accessible to Americans.

The one on display in “The Land of Persepolis” is based on “The Potato Eaters” by Vincent van Gogh, in which a group of men and women are seated around a table in a dark room lit by a single lamp eating potatoes.

Eslami added a Persian woman dressed in clothing from over 50 years ago who appears to be watching the group. A potato in a man’s hand in van Gogh’s original was replaced by Eslami with a pomegranate.

“The pomegranate means family to me,” Eslami said. “When you see the pomegranate, you see all the seeds, quite close to each other. It represents my family.

An ornate open pavilion has been placed behind the group, and the lamp of van Gogh’s painting hangs from it. The pavilion is part of the tomb of Hafez, a poet, in Shiraz, Iran.

“It is a very famous area that tourists visit in Shiraz,” she said.

As she progressed as an artist, Eslami moved away from famous paintings and began to compose her work digitally on computers. The image with the eagle is part of this change.

“In this job I use my body parts, my face,” she said. “I am the hybrid identity, but at a different stage.

She purposely contrasted the eagle, a symbol of strength, with a dove and an olive branch to represent peace and included the paisley pattern due to her belief in its connection to Persia.

Some have placed its origin in Spain, but it is believed that it comes from Persia and that it is derived from cypress trees.

“I bring my Eastern culture and blend it with my Western culture,” she said. “I mix these two. It’s my art.

A few steps from Eslami’s pieces, a series of colorful women’s clothing is on display. They were designed and sewn by her friend, Ramona Shahsavar, an Iranian woman whom Islami met when she was a student.

Next to each is an image of the element of Persian culture that inspired them and a model wearing the outfit, a presentation that is part of Eslami’s concept of presenting Iranian culture to Americans.

A sinuous pattern on the side of one spells out the word goddess in the Persian alphabet.

“I want to show the beauty of Persian culture, how deep we have a history,” she said.

The motifs common to Persia are also important in the contributions of Americans to the exhibition.

One artist, Leslie Lambert, an Idahoan, made a watercolor portrait of Islami and combined it with a peacock motif in shades of blue and purple, which is commonly found in mosque domes Islamic in Iran.

“The purpose of this exhibition is to influence everyone’s perspective of Iran,” Eslami said.

Williams can be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.

If you are going to

What: Art exhibition, “The Land of Persepolis: Presentation of Persian Culture in the West”.

When: noon to 4 p.m. weekdays, Friday to December 10. Also from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on October 1 and from noon to 4 p.m. on October 2. Closed Mov. 25-26.

Where: Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, 415 Main St., Lewiston.

Online Events:

5:00 p.m. Wednesday – Opening presentation by Mohammad Ghaedi, Visiting Fellow at the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

6 p.m. October 8 – Calligraphy demonstration by exhibiting artist Arash Shirinbab.

11 a.m. October 16 – Cooking demonstration by celebrity private chef Mojdeh Eghbal, owner of Noush Catering in Los Angeles.

6 p.m. October 22 – Performance and presentation by the Rahaa Dance Group from Seattle.

7:28 PM Oct. – Online conversation with the producer / director of “Groken Grail” (available on the centre’s website).

10 am Nov 6 – Artistic workshop by exhibiting artist Rachael Mayer.

4 pm Nov 9 – Presentation by LCSC Emeritus Professor Rhett Diessner on his encounters with Persian culture.

7 p.m. November 16 – Persian music by Washington State University students Nasir Haghighi and Maziar Mivehchi.

6:00 p.m. December 9 – Closing Lecture on Persian Architecture by Vahid Vahdat, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Interior Design at the WSU School of Design and Construction.

Additional information and mandatory pre-registration are available at

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