Nora made her comedy debut in the fall of 2015 at one of Boston University’s Flat Waffle Comedy Hour shows, shortly after joining BU’s Stand-up Club. She has since performed at the Gotham Comedy Club and the Metropolitan Room in New York City, won the Laugh Boston Comic Knockout contest, and has opened for comedy superstars like Chris Hardwick and Hannibal Buress.
Nora is known for her satirical take on everyday life, politics, and the challenges of growing up as the ‘teacher’s daughter’ at an all-girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts. She’s also been known to break out in song and entertain the crowd with her kick-ass ukelele skills.
In March 2016, she became the first female comic to win ‘BU’s Funniest’ and everybody who knows her is very tired of hearing her talk about it…and how this makes her a “feminist icon.” She is not like other girls.
Sourena Parham is a visual artist and online media professional with a background in cultural studies, photography, and documentary filmmaking. Sourena’s photography projects include “Tehran, Seen through Objects” and “Murals of East LA and Echo Park”. In 2002 he worked with the Margaret Mead Award recipient, Tobias Hecht, on a series of photographs for a Guggenheim-funded book project, Afterlife. The subject of the project was the life of street children in the city of Recife, Brazil. Between 2003 and 2008 Sourena worked with the Library of Congress to collect and preserve the publications produced by the Iranian-American community in Los Angeles. During this time, he also worked on a collection of photographs that documented the life of the Iranian-American community in California.
Haley Parsa pursues a BFA in Studio Art with a Business Certificate at the University of Texas at Austin. She represents her school as a Terry Scholar and as a Presidential Scholar and was awarded the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Student Award in Arts and Humanities. Although a Texas native, Parsa is Iranian-American, and in her art, the intersection between her and her Persian heritage is placed under an intimate and meditative lens. Her personal identity is embraced, upheld, and transformed, through her work, into a tool for advocating for and within her larger cultural community.
Sara Pisheh is an award-winning designer born and raised in Shiraz, Iran and now residing in the San Francisco Bay area. Her passion for design takes multiple forms, including industrial design, sculpture, jewelry, furniture, scenic, and stage design. Sara’s unique perspective and bold style marries classical Persian architectural elements with a modern take on calligraphy, oftentimes through a specialized digital fabrication technique. Sara holds an MFA in Design from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA in Design from the University of Tehran. She is the recipient of five different awards from various international festivals. Sara’s global perspective and her passion have led her to the Bay Area, where she continues to explore and create.
Bita Pourtavoosi has been creating a name in handmade bridge jewelry for the past five years. Based in the heart of fashion in New York, Bita is constantly developing new ideas that set the scene for upcoming trends. Her fresh and mischievous take on style blends glamour and class with an over the top artistic and creative influence, resulting in an exceptional point of view. Her collections have been featured in domestic and international magazines, worn by celebrities on hit T.V. shows, adorned by models on designer runways and photo shoots, and displayed in stores nationwide.
Over the years, Bita has developed into an exceptional artist. Growing up in a Persian-Middle Eastern family and community set the tone for her creative exploration through jewelry design. She has always been very stimulated and intrigued by Ancient Egyptian jewelry as well as Middle Eastern motifs. Her intense study and background in painting also inspired her love of bold colors. Bita’s jewelry collection has created a balanced world between her inspirations and her deep passion for the world of fashion.
“Bita Pourtavoosi” handmade designs are exciting, distinctive, and unusual. They are a celebration of the ever growing and changing attitude that is predominant in society today. Bita gives the people an outlet to express themselves and their individual personality. Her collection attracts women of all ages and cultural boundaries, often making her items the must-haves of the season.
Tala Raassi, an Iranian American fashion designer/author, was born in the United States and raised in Tehran. Named one of the “Most Fearless Women in the World” by Newsweek magazine, Raassi made her mark in the fashion world at an early age with her talent in exclusive swimwear. She is devoted to celebrating the beauty of women’s bodies through her designs and to empowering women all around the world to follow their dreams. For Raassi, “Fashion is Freedom.”
Raassi captivated the world through her inspiring story, entitled “Crime of the Mini Skirt,” featured in Marie Claire magazine. At sixteen she attended her friend’s Sweet 16 house party in a mini skirt. While in the privacy of her friend’s home, the religious police raided the house, and she ultimately faced the harsh punishment of five days in jail and forty lashes for wearing “indecent clothing,” according to Islamic law. Following this sentence, Raassi moved back to the USA where she currently lives. Her story went global, and Rachel Ray, Elle, and Newsweek, among others, interviewed her, giving her the platform to vocalize her vision of fashion as a symbol of freedom. Raassi's memoir "Fashion is Freedom" was published internationally in September of 2016.
Ebrahim Poustinchi, architect, researcher, and art director, completed his post-graduate studies under Greg Lynn at UCLA’s SUPRASTUDIO. Ebrahim previously taught advanced digital modeling and fabrication techniques as a faculty and associate in research at Washington State University. He was also the Technology Director Assistant at UCLA SUPRASTUDIO. During his professional research and studies, he has been affiliated with a variety of academic, professional, and industrial organizations, including the Bot and Dolly Design Studio, Cirque Du Soleil, the IDEAS Robotics Lab at UCLA, the 5D Institute at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Art, Washington State University, the Salk Institute Center for Neurobiology of Vision, and the University of Tehran.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Afarin Rahmanifar has emerged as one of the leading Persian painters working today. Her artistic vision originates, she says, “at the intersecting points of eastern and western culture.” She understands her journey toward her present identity as an American-Iranian woman through these concepts: “Separation”…from what one has been a part of. “Belonging”…to that which is different. “Appearing,” then “disappearing,” then “reappearing” again. Rahmanifar strives to show the body as a vessel, moving through this Journey, taking in new experiences for the mind to process. The intellectual and emotional parts of the self are changed through the act of Separation; the changed self belongs both to the past and to the present.
Each of us, through a process of self-discovery and getting aligned with our soul, can change our environment and the life we choose to live. Atousa’s artwork takes the viewer through a journey of merging with the spirit to see themselves as an innate being who has taken on the clothes of humanness to play in the sandbox of creation. It is about seeing life through the eyes of consciousness, and therefore experiencing peace, love, gratitude, and abundance. Atousa’s art represents her own spiritual transformation which in turn gives others a mirror to see the possibility of their own transformation.
Atousa is also certified in energy healing. She guides clients in meditation which at times incorporates art, dance, and movement. She performs energy healing and tapping on clients to release emotions and thoughts. Atousa’s vision is to provide a support system for the client’s life journey, especially in challenging situations where they need someone who understands and can walk them through it.
Born in Tehran in 1976, Sara Rahbar now lives and works in New York. She pursued an interdisciplinary study program in New York and also studied at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design in London. Her work ranges from photography to sculpture to installation, but her creations always stem from her personal experiences. Accordingly, her art is largely autobiographical. The first body of work that earned Sara international recognition was her Flag Series (2005-2016), in which traditional fabrics and objects are reworked as collages, forming various incarnations of the American and Iranian flags. This series explores ideas of national belonging and the conflicting role of flags as symbols of ideological and nationalistic violence.
Gity Razaz is an award-winning composer of concert music. Her music has been hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing” and by the San Diego Union Tribune as "remarkable and breathtaking." Ms. Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to large symphonic works and her work has been performed internationally. Oscar Award-winning composer and mentor John Corigliano writes: “…her Middle-Eastern roots have merged with her Western sensibilities to produce music that is both original and startling. She is on her way to becoming a major force in contemporary music.”
Ms. Razaz was the first Iranian woman to be accepted into the Juilliard School's prestigious graduate composition program. Her music has been performed at Carnegie Hall by the American Composers Orchestra, at Brooklyn's National Sawdust as part of her 2015-2016 tenure as inaugural composer-in-residence, as well as by the Seattle Symphony, former cellist of Kronos Quartet Jeffrey Zeigler, Metropolis Ensemble, Albany Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, among many others.
Her upcoming projects include an opera with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., an evening-length ballet for Moscow Theatre, and multiple works as part of her tenure as 2017 composer-in-residence at New York's Chautauqua Opera.
Maryam Rassapour is a graphic designer, visual artist, and art teacher. Her artwork is mostly based on mixed media. Maryam loves to use different mediums, applying her own unique techniques to boldly express the ordinary life she observes around her, which is strongly inspired by Iranian culture, both past and present.
Maryam was born in Tehran, Iran and she started her artistic journey when she was 13 years old, painting her first oil on canvas piece. From there she continued onward until she received her BFA/MFA in Graphic Design from Azad University in Tehran, Iran.
In 1996, while an undergraduate, Maryam co-founded a boutique graphic design company called Kasheh (http://kasheh.com), with one of her colleagues in Iran. During this period she had several group exhibitions, illustrated some books, and designed several other book covers. Maryam also taught art and helped students prepare their portfolios for university. Kasheh continues to this day and Maryam remotely contributes while her colleague runs the business back in Iran.
Since moving to the U.S. in 2003, Maryam has continued to work as a graphic designer, visual artist, and art teacher. Here she has participated in several group exhibitions in D.C, Miami, Orlando, and LA. Currently, one of her pieces is on exhibit at The Art and Craft Museum in LA, as part of the Focus Iran 2 Exhibition sponsored by The Farhang Foundation.
Half-American, half-Persian, Shiva was born and raised in the countryside of Iran. She and her family lived as refugees before settling into a new life in the United States. Finding solace in old films, fashion, and books, Shiva expressed herself through film and theater, launching her Hollywood career. Now, Shiva can be found wandering barefoot in her garden in the Santa Monica Mountains with chickens underfoot and a commitment to clean living. Shiva shares her knowledge regularly on her blog, The Local Rose, and her award-winning line of all-natural products, Shiva Rose Beauty & Skin has become increasingly popular.
Nooshin Rostami is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She was born in Shahroud and raised in Tehran, Iran. Rostami has widely exhibited and presented her work in solo and group settings in the United States, Iran, India, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Canada. Her work has been featured in number of publications such as Baumtestquarterly, Jadaliyya, and Ajam Media Collective. Rostami's research interests pertain to politics of geography, identity, and gender. In her work she embodies themes often inspired by personal narratives through mediums of performance, installation, drawing, and painting.
Nooshin Rostami is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She was born in Shahroud, and raised in Tehran, Iran. Rostami has widely exhibited and presented her work in solo and group settings in the United States, Iran, India, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Canada. Her work has been featured in number of publications such as Baumtestquarterly, Jadaliyya and Ajam MediaCollective. Rostami's research interests pertain to politics of geography, identity, and gender. In her work she embodies themes often inspired by personal narratives through mediums of performance, installation, drawing and painting.
Born in Tehran, Iran and raised in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Arsia Rozegar always had a passion for art and creativity. He has worked as a professional color artist on popular titles such as Marvel's Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. In addition to creating comics, he also paints, performs music, and helms children's creative arts programs.
One of Arsia's most recent creative efforts is the illustrated children's book, Shahnameh for Kids.
Steeped in Expressionist style, Moshgan's oils capture the deepest artistic nuances, suggestive of the old masters, yet the angular elements of her still-lifes, the free flowing brush strokes of her landscapes, and the bold use of color in her abstracts and flowers demonstrate the maturity of an artist who is determined to remain free in her expression. From the first box of paints and the tentative experiments with color on the balcony of her family's home in Tehran to the present master she is today, nature in all its myriad forms and colors continues to be her most reliable teacher. And as all true artists evolve, so it is with Moshgan that form gives way to color in her new experiments in abstract, all of it reminiscent of that seven year old little girl on her balcony a world away.
Moshgan’s journey to becoming a professional artist first found expression in Iran during that country’s Cultural Revolution in 1979 when the government closed the public universities. After a year of uncertainty, at age 18, the door to her soul life and her destiny opened. Enrolling full time in the prestigious and private Kamalolmolk School of Fine Arts brought her in touch with Saeed Broomand, a gifted teacher and visionary artist who lived in Europe and returned to Kamalolmolk with a keen appreciation of western art forms. Fortunately for Moshgan, Mr. Broomand’s artistry prevented him from allowing technique’s favor to overshadow the heart of his message: It is the responsibility of the artist to be free in their expression. Throughout her studies, an indomitable childlike sensibility played a key role in her developing “technique” and helped transform a tumultuous world into one of infinite possibilities filled with color.
Shortly after graduation, Moshgan knew she needed to expand her horizons for her career to flourish. It was springtime 1986 when she arrived in New York City with desire, passion, determination, and something else: woven from the threads of memory in the creative fabric of her adventurous and artistic soul lived a meandering road lined with giant, bright red poppies, wild flowers of all varieties, blue and lavender mountains, and indigo skies. Well-travelled, this simple country road from Tehran to the villages of her ancestors served as an internal compass and laid the foundation that would become her tapestry of color. Color that her nomadic grandmothers lived and breathed in their daily lives, color that was in their blood and now color that would find expression in Moshgan’s art.
After arriving in America and settling in with her sister in Queens, Moshgan enrolled in Hunter College and quite effortlessly obtained two BA Degrees in Fine Art and Art History. Inspiration was found in her art history classes, in visiting libraries, and in discovering books on master artists unavailable in the country of her birth.
Having built a thriving career that spans four decades and two continents, her collectors worldwide all delight in partaking of the Divine energy expressed in the colorful and deeply passionate works that moved their hearts and now adorn their walls. Moshgan’s paintings continue to be sought after by admirers and fine art collectors from around the world who often delight in remarking that they have several pieces in their collections.
Salar Rajabnik is a product of time spent in lots of seemingly contrasting places. Born in the Atlanta area, he was immersed in the world of southern American music early on. The strong Persian cultural influence of his father, an Iranian immigrant, was just as evident at a young age. From the beginning this unexpected amalgamation of cultures began to create the foundation that would define him as a musician and person.
While his influences seem conflicting on the surface level, the underlying and unifying principles are strong. Salar has always been about playing with heart, soul, and honesty.
After years of playing in bands and as both a live and studio musician, Salar relocated to Nashville and formed a backing band, Moon Age, in 2014. Salar’s upcoming solo album, Black & White World, is set to release in 2017.