By Christine Snyder

This week’s featured artist in honor of Women’s History Month is Shirin Neshat, an Iranian born photographer, filmmaker, and calligraphy artist.  Shirin was born in Iran in 1957 to a non-religious family in a conservative, religious town.  She felt like an outcast growing up, as her family did not practice the religious customs of her community.  She moved to the United States to pursue her education, obtaining a BFA and MFA from the University of California at Berkeley.  Again, Shrin felt like an outcast as an Iranian woman living in the United States.  Along with themes regarding male dominated culture and the female gaze, her work explores trying to feel a connection with people when you feel in conflict with yourself.  One of her films explores people’s dreams and how dreams are where fears are exposed.  The film shows that fear is universal, and that by experiencing other people’s fears, one can confront their own pain.  Shirin has stated that her art is a way for her to remain connected with Iran, and I get the sense that it is also a way for her to connect with others and show how humanity is more alike than it is different.

Untitled, 1996

Neshat’s work often contains painted text from Iranian poetry.


Offered Eye, 1993

The text in this piece contains lines from an Iranian feminist poet, Forough Farrokhzad.  The poem expresses how desires can conflict with religious rules.


This image is a still from one of Neshat’s films, Tooba.  The image portrays a woman resting as she undergoes a long journey.


I love how Neshat’s work exemplifies how one can be proud of their country while simultaneously exploring its flaws.  I also love that she examines universal concepts such as fear and belonging.  Finally, I feel she is a perfect choice for a Women’s History Month spotlight, because she celebrates women’s identity, hope, and strength.  I can’t wait to see what she has in store for her future endeavors!  



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