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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe Jairan Sadeghi is a multi-disciplinary artist. Working in what is essentially analog media, they use the [largely] unintentional aesthetics of scientific enterprise as their conceptual starting point to create drawings, paintings, sculpture, and installations. Sadeghi is drawn to the visual systems and conventions used by scientists and technologists to collect, convey, and assign value to information. They use illustrator’s mediums, ceramics, and other implements to render abstract and symbolic forms, treating the act of portraiture in its broadest sense, drawing tension between the abstruse symbolism of science and the inevitability of human fingerprints.
A veteran IT executive and a serial entrepreneur, Bardia became an artist in 2011 during his “self-discovery” period, working at a plant nursery. His art career started with installations incorporating live plants, inspired by the vertical gardens of Patrik Blanc. He then moved into making larger interactive installations, working with found objects. The inspiration for his art comes from a single moment. A moment dipped in wonder, “why not,” and enlightenment.
A major recent project, “I Have A Home Here,” is a school bus converted into an art gallery showcasing art produced in collaboration with a group of un-housed people in Washington DC. More recently, Bardia’s work has shifted towards new media, specifically LED light installations. Somewhere between a light bulb and a computer screen resides a new visual sense, expressed in the language of lights.
Ashkan Sahihi (b. Tehran, 1963) is a photographer known for his unique work: prisoners on death row, hip hoppers, writers, female soldiers, explorations of the facial expressions of people under the influence of various drugs they are trying for the first time.
Sahihi’s family left Iran for Germany when he was seven; he moved to New York in 1987 and subsequently created photographs for the weekend magazines of Die Zeit and Süddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel and GEO, the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and Vogue.
His work was presented at New York’s Andrea Rosen Gallery in 2000 and featured in shows at MoMA PS1 in New York, the Berlin Academy of Arts, Macro in Rome, and elsewhere.
His most recent work is a portrait of Berlin comprising 350 photographs of women living in Berlin.
Farideh Sakhaeifar was born in Tehran, Iran, and received her MFA in 2011 from the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University. She received her BFA in 2008 from Azad Art and Architecture University in Tehran. Some of Farideh's solo exhibitions include: Sacrosanct at the William Holman Gallery in New York and Laugh Track at Cathouse FUNeral in Brooklyn. Select group exhibitions include: Photography Now at the Center of Photography at Woodstock, War Stories at the William Holman Gallery, Nazri at the Factory Gallery in Hamedan, Iran, and Meditations in an Emergency at the Dumbo Art Center in New York. Sakhaeifar was a visiting scholar at New York University in 2013, and a visiting artist at The New School for Liberal Arts in 2012. She lives and works in Brooklyn, and is represented by the William Holman Gallery.
Sepideh Salehi is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in Tehran. She left Iran to attend Accademia di belle Arti in Florence, Italy, where she received her MFA in Visual Art and Multimedia. Sepideh works in various mediums, utilizing different processes ranging from painting to drawing to printmaking to video art animation. Some of the venues at which Salehi has shown her work include ART BRIEF III: THE (UN)DRAPED WOMAN, Contemporary Art Biennale (Iran), STRAPPA Rogue Space, the Craft and Folk Art Museum (LA), Kentler International Drawing Space (Brooklyn), Tribeca Video Art, Centre for Contemporary Art, and International Bologna Art Fair (Italy). Sepideh currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Kamron Saniee is an electronic musician and composer based in NYC. Inspired by musical cultures ranging from Persian classical to avant-garde electronic movements, his music has been noted for its forward energy, textural sound palette and rhythmic intensity. Having previously trained as a classical violinist, Saniee's approach is dynamic and improvisational, resulting in visceral and enlivening live sets. He was one of 8 US producers selected for the 2016 edition of the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy and has performed his electronic works in New York, Montréal, Berlin, Budapest, and Tokyo.
Since 2015, he has explored a parallel project in spatial sound composition, producing numerous live performances and installations for multichannel formats in a style which he terms "ultra-spatial," where a combination of programmatic synthesis and haptic control allows the creation and expressive modulation of deeply spatial oscillations.
In March of 2017, Saniee released his debut solo work, Tantric Dub EP, via Berlin imprint VE-302, channeling oriental stylistic influences in a techno and electro-leaning idiom.
Roger Sedarat is the author of four poetry books, including the just released Haji as Puppet: An Orientalist Burlesque (Word Works, 2017). He is the winner of the 2016 Tenth Gate Prize for Mid-Career Poets, and he wrote Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic (which won Ohio University Press’ Hollis Summers’ Prize) and Ghazal Games (Ohio UP, 2011).
Roger teaches creative writing (poetry and literary translation) in the MFA program at Queens College, City University of New York. He teaches and writes on such academic interests as 19th and 20th century American literature, as well as Middle Eastern-American literature. Currently, Roger is working toward translating a full-length collection of ghazals by the 14th century Sufi Persian poet, Hafez.
Ramin Serry has written and directed two critically-acclaimed films, Maryam (“Powerful, important and very moving.” - Roger Ebert) and Loveless (”Watch for Serry; he is a genuine talent.” - Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune.) Serry’s short films, “Don’t Call It A Comeback” (2013) and the award-winning “Future Hero” (2014) were official selections at multiple film festivals. He has recently completed a comedic web series, "Film U.” Serry has taught screenwriting at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, The University of Georgia, The Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, and Hunter College.
"I like to deliver my work in small portions; portions that are microscopically forged by a phenomenologically-painstaking process that is not to be fixed or normalized."
Cameron Shafii is an Iranian composer practicing generative and electroacoustic music. His compositions are inflected with a host of digital synthesis processes and are informed by aspects of acousmatic theory, particularly spectromorphology. His works do not impose any temporal scheme upon the listener, rejecting the semiotic operation of 'engagement/disengagement' in the discourse of A.J. Greimas. 'Pithy & Prolix,' his new piece for the Entr'acte label, features sound scenes that emphasize the materiality and morphology of spatial textures. In it, Shafii presents an asymmetrical narrative that articulates tension, amorphous forms, and complex sonorities, signifying a plurality of meaning and complication.
Shafii has performed at concerts, festivals, installations, and workshops in the US and Canada. He runs the Ge-stell label and is currently based in Seattle, Washington.
Aida, initially a daf player, studied with Amir Samadi in Tehran, Iran. She moved from Tehran to Minneapolis in summer of 2000. She is mostly self-taught when it comes to the Persian vocal repertoire. Her passion for Persian classical music stems from the cultural identity she craved after immigrating and the women she met during her years of study. Her senior project in the University of Minnesota’s Anthropology department centered around restrictions on the voices of female classical vocalists in Iran. Through this project Aida met, interviewed, and studied with Parissa for a period of 3 months. While residing in NYC, Aida worked with a few non-profit organizations as a teaching artist promoting the arts as a tool for social justice. She created and taught a class called Iran’s Arts Activism centered around the effects of society on art and vise versa, at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She released her debut album, Wind Between the Horse’s Ears, in 2015. She currently works with a social justice theatre troupe called Making Waves housed at Hamline University. Aida lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their dog, Milo.
Kamran Sharif is an Iranian sculptor. Born in 1978 in Tabriz, Iran, he graduated from Mirak Art School in Tabriz. He opened his first private studio in Tehran, but he currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Kamran has worked with many different techniques throughout his artistic career, using materials from wood to bronze. He considers himself a mostly self-educated artist and his works have been displayed both locally and internationally.
Kamran's most recent works are the outcome of his critical approach to various socio-cultural conditions in the "new world" that he currently finds himself experiencing.
Nanda Sharif-pour holds a B.A. in visual communication/graphic design and M.F.A. in illustration/fine arts from Azad University of Art and Architecture in Tehran, Iran. Since 1999 she has participated in over 40 group and solo exhibitions in the United States, Turkey, and Iran.
Currently she is back to graduate school to continue her education in the UNLV Master of Fine Arts program.
Much of her previous works involved traditional mediums exploring both psychological states and sociological roles. This was accomplished through her figurative portrayals of women in sparse, mute, and, to some extent, artificial spaces. Being inspired by both old masters and contemporary artists, Sharif-pour connects her paintings to the surrounding space through juxtaposing imagery and actual objects. This creates a new concept which wouldn’t exist without a re-defined relationship between two (or more) normal imageries or objects forming an uncanny or unfamiliar situation in juxtaposition.
More recently, she is expanding her themes across different mediums, such as installation and sculpture.
Soody Sharifi is an Iranian-American artist based in Houston. Her work primarily deals with the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in living between two cultures. In many of her series, she has explored the notion of identity and what it means to participate in two cultures from both an outsider’s and an insider’s perspective. Through different series, she investigates this concept as it applies to Muslim youth in Iran and the US and their emerging concept of self-identity. Specifically, Soody explores how these individuals accommodate modernity and youthful indulgence within the confines of a very traditional society.
Soody has been exhibited nationally and internationally since 2004 and her art has been collected by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts Portland, and the Farjam Collection in the United Arab Emirates.
Sherwin is a multi-dimensional artist living in Richmond, Virginia.
A native Iranian, Shayan was raised in South Carolina since the early age of ten. Growing up in South Carolina, he experienced an adventurous transition adjusting to a new culture and way of life. He found his passion in acting towards the latter years of high school and went on to pursue a career in acting. A graduate of the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Acting Apprenticeship, Shayan quickly found his network of like minded artists in New York City, where he resides today. As a professional actor he has appeared in Madam Secretary, Elementary, Unforgettable, Jessica Jones & Veep. His original sketches which he co-wrote and starred in, have also been featured on Funny or Die!
Mona Shomali is a U.S. based artist who was born in California in 1979. She began painting seriously at the age of 15 after being introduced to nude life drawing classes sponsored by the Berkeley Artists Guild. When she was 19 years old, Mona started the Naked Folklore series, depicting American-Iranian women. Mona’s art is known to be influenced by the Bay Area (California) figurative movement (1950-1965) and Iranian art. Her work reflects her experience growing up on the West Coast as an Iranian woman, and much of her artwork features modern Iranian women in traditional settings.
Melissa Shoshahi is an Iranian-American stand-up comedian and actress based in Los Angeles. Performing across the country and Canada, Melissa brings her witty personality to the stage and knows no limits when it comes to comedy—culture, politics, race and gender are all fair game. Melissa’s creativity and writing are showcased on Nickelodeon’s NickMom channel, her stand-up has been featured on the TV show Laughs on FOX, and she is a NACA showcase artist performing at universities throughout the country. Her festival credits include the San Francisco Comedy Competition, the She Devil Comedy Festival in NY, the Westside Comedy Competition and the Desi Comedy Festival in San Francisco.
Alma Sinai (b. Tehran 1989) is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in New York and Tehran. She moved to the US in 2010 after transferring from a BA major in Cinematography at University of Art in Tehran to pursue a BFA in painting at Rhode Island School of Design. Following the completion of her bachelor degree she entered the MFA program at Parsons the New School for Design and graduated in 2015.
She works primarily in printmaking, drawing, and video to unfold her ideas on the notions of abruption, suspension, and absence. Titled Where my past expires in a deed, Sinai held her first solo exhibition at Dastan Gallery in Tehran. Formerly she has participated in group exhibitions in New York, Rhode Island, Tasmania, Rome, Dubai, New Delhi, and Tehran.
Katayoun Stewart is a Persian-American artist who was born in Tehran, Iran in 1966. From a very early age she was making countless drawings as a response to what she saw or experienced.
During Katayoun's early teens, following the Iranian-Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran spent eight long years at war with Iraq. Katayoun, in high school at this time, was encouraged by the staff to use her drawing and painting skills to create several large wall murals of soldiers, tanks, and war stories. For a teenager, the militaristic subject matter was disturbing; however, Katayoun chose to turn it into a positive educational experience, focusing strongly and methodically on the human form.
After several years working as a self-taught artist, she decided to pursue a formal art education in 1993. During her studies at Tehran’s Alzahra University of Art she was introduced to a much larger art world. Katayoun was intensely moved by abstract artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró. From here her curiosity grew and after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1997, she knew she had to experience more of the world.
This curiosity for the art and culture of other lands has taken her on a journey of discovery. In 2000 she moved to Turkey. She lived there for 3 years and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Hacettepe University of Art in Ankara.
In 2003, Katayoun moved to the United States. She has since traveled through many parts of the country. She has lived in California, Michigan, and Florida, and currently, she lives in Pennsylvania. In 2013 she decided to study for a year in the Post Baccalaureate program at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to experience art education in this country. From there she was introduced to major figurative painters Vincent Desiderio and Renee Foulks, as well as others. She also started sculpture with John Horn in an effort to study the human figure in a medium other than paint. This experience was a turning point for Katayoun, and her art works have transitioned from abstract to figurative. She says, "Figurative arts allow me to work conceptually and portray my ideas about life."
Since the mid-2000s, much of Katayoun’s art (stylistically abstract expressionistic pieces) has been sold to private collectors. Oakland University in Michigan commissioned her to paint a series for display in their Kresge Library and an upscale hotel in Michigan commissioned her to create a series of paintings for their lobby and business offices.
She has taught art at the elementary, high school, and college levels. Currently Katayoun spends her days as a full-time artist.
Kamran Taheri Moghaddam began studying art in Tehran, obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree from Azad University of Art and Architecture in painting. Kamran continued his studies in Florence, Italy, where he obtained a Master’s Degree from Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze in Visual Art and Multimedia. His work crosses multiple mediums: painting, drawing, installation, and video. Since moving to the United States in 2008, Kamran has creatively worked as a TV producer, using his artistic training and skills to illustrate social and political stories. His paintings and videos have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and art fairs in Iran, Italy, France, and the USA, in shows such as ”ART BRIEF III: THE (UN)DRAPED WOMAN" (Santa Monica, California), “STRAPPA: Dialogue and Performance” (Rogue Space, New York), "Drawings in Motion" at Kentler International Drawing Space (Brooklyn, NY), and "Invideo" (Milan, Italy). His art was also featured at the International Contemporary Art Fair (Mulhous, France), Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma in Italy, and Barg Gallery in Tehran, Iran. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Azadeh Tajpour is a multidisciplinary artist based in Cambridge, MA. She is interested in the ways in which we perceive information and the lenses through which we look at “others” exploring the gray area and the shifting borders between “us” and “other.” She works in a variety of media, including, painting, drawing, installation, and is currently working on a documentary.
She holds an MFA from Claremont Graduate University, California and is a recipient of Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Fellowship and Armory Center for the Art Fellowship. She has attended MassMoCA, Virginia Center for the Arts, Boston Center for the Arts, and Art Omi artist residencies and has exhibited in Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (UK), La Casa Del Tunel Art Center (Mexico), McNish Gallery (Oxnard College), Jaus Gallery (Los Angeles), Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Babson College and New Art Center (Boston), among others.
Ramin Talaie is an Iranian-American photographer, filmmaker, and producer based in San Francisco, CA, and Brooklyn, NY. He teaches photojournalism as a part-time adjunct at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Niloufar Talebi is a writer, award-winning translator, and multidisciplinary artist. She is the editor and translator of "Belonging: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World" (North Atlantic Books, 2008), translator of Vis & I (l’Aleph, 2017), and creator of multimedia works including “ICARUS/RISE” and “Persian Rite of Spring.” She was a librettist Resident Artist with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center and the American Lyric Theater where she developed her first operas (The Investment, 2015, and The Disinherited, 2014, respectively). As a librettist, she has received many commissions, including those from Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Fire Angels, 2011), VisionIntoArt, and the Young People's Chorus of NYC (Epiphany, 2015). Talebi’s work has received accolades from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, and SF Classical Voice.
Nima was born in Iran, grew up in France, and then moved to the United States, where he attended college in Texas. After graduation he moved to California, and he now resides in Chicago, Illinois. When he retired as an attorney, Nima decided to pick up photography, an art form he had always loved. Now, as a documentary photographer, he pays particular attention to the cultural, social, and political landscape of our society and photographs issues he finds important. Photography has enabled him to explore the world and to learn about people, issues, and places with which he was unfamiliar. Nima's photographs have been published in various national and international magazines and periodicals including the Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times' Lens Blog and more.
Reza Vali was born in Ghazvin, Iran, in 1952. He began his music studies at the Conservatory of Music in Tehran. In 1972 he went to Austria and studied music education and composition at the Academy of Music in Vienna. After graduating from the Academy of Music, he moved to the United States and continued his studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition in 1985. Mr. Vali has been a faculty member of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 1988. He has received numerous honors and commissions, including the honor prize of the Austrian Ministry of Arts and Sciences, two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships, commissions from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as the Outstanding Emerging Artist for which he received the Creative Achievement Award. Vali's orchestral compositions have been performed in the United States by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Baltimore Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra 2001. His chamber works have received performances by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Carpe Diem String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Da Capo Chamber Players. His music has been performed in Europe, China, Chile, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Australia and is recorded on the Naxos, New Albion, MMC, Ambassador, Albany, and ABC Classics labels.
Azin Valy is the founder and designer of Cityzen by Azin, a luxury fashion and accessories brand based on incorporating aerial views of cities from around the world and promoting global Cityzen-ship with an overarching vision for peace. Ms. Valy is also a partner and co-founder of the award winning Architecture and Design firm, I-Beam Design, based in NY. Her belief in the power of design inspiring and making a difference in people’s lives is evident in her training as an architect as well as a fashion designer, linking the person with the place.
As an architect with over 20 years of experience in design and construction ranging in scale from urban projects to product design and in scope from high-end residential to refugee shelters has earned her firm a number of awards. It was recently listed as one of the top architecture firms in New York City by New York Magazine.
Azin’s approach in her fashion brand, Cityzen By Azin, carries the same thread that runs through her architecture practice: design with a purpose. The spark for Cityzen emerged out of an urban research project. Looking at the cities from above and highlighting their beauties and the challenges they face was the impetus to create a platform where design and social responsibility could merge.
Azin’s work in architecture and fashion has been published in numerous national and international publications and has won a number of awards.
She was born in Iran and immigrated to the US in 1978 at age 14. She received a full scholarship from The Cooper Union School of Art and Science where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. She was recently invited at the request of the US Chamber of Commerce in Doha for the “Bridge That Unites Us” fashion event. One of her designs, worn by the “Space Ambassador and Astronaut” Anousheh Ansari, graced the 89th Academy Award’s stage as she accepted the Oscars on behalf of Asghar Farhadi’s film The Salesman.
Born in Iran, Roxanne Varzi migrated to the U.S. with her family shortly after the Revolution. Today she is a writer, a visual anthropologist, and a filmmaker. Her first film, Plastic Flowers Never Die, has been shown in festivals and museums around the world.
Roxanne's work often centers around the intersection of religion, vision, and power, and it often questions whether the individual ultimately has the power to "turn an image on or off." To this end, Roxanne has gone beyond working on Iran (where she has done significant field work) to tackle universal issues surrounding war and photography.
While Vatan's band members were raised (and even born) in the United States, the members draw inspiration from their home countries. Through their music, Vatan honors their roots while celebrating the coming together of their cultures. The country underlinings honor America and what it has to offer those who come from another country to start a new life while continuing to empower their heritage through music. Coining the term, "Iranicana," Vatan truly travels between two worlds and gracefully takes the audience along for the ride.
Mahnaz Weldy is an emerging artist working primarily with acrylic paints on canvas. She employs bold colors to make revealing and emotional statements in abstract form. Her approach is guided by worldly curiosity and thoughtful reflection on a life fully lived—she only began painting 20 years into a non-artistic career, after having raised two grown children with her husband of 33 years. Accordingly, Mahnaz says that she did not find painting—painting found her.
Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, writer and public speaker. A recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, among others, Wolpé ’s literary work include four collections of poetry, a play, three books of translations, and three anthologies. About Wolpé ’s latest collection of poems, Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths, Shelf Awareness Magazine writes, “A gifted Iranian-American poet beautifully explores love and the loss of love, beauty and war and the ghosts of the past.” Wolpé’s modern translation of The Conference of the Birds by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attar (W.W. Norton), has been hailed by Reza Aslan as a translation that “is sure to be as timeless as the masterpiece itself.” Wolpé ’s writings have been translated into eleven languages and included in numerous American and international anthologies and journals of poetry and fiction, and featured on programs such as Selected Shorts at Symphony Space and NPR. She has lived in the UK and Trinidad and is presently based in Los Angeles.
Arash Yaghmaian Is a visual artist who focuses on socio-political and cultural issues. He was born in Iran and he lives and works in New York. He worked as a graphic designer throughout his life, yet always had a strong love for photography. His personal life experiences in dealing with addiction, war, and migration have taught him to have a deep appreciation and understanding of life. Through his own personal struggles he has learned how to capture images of his subjects with dignity and empathy. His work explores and captures social and cultural realities through visual documentary storytelling and fine art.
Bijan Yashar was born in Tehran, Iran and has been living in California since 1979, when he and his family moved to the United States. A Bay Area-based video artist and photographer, Yashar has an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MA in Educational Psychology from UC Berkeley. His photography and video works have been exhibited and screened at Torrance Art Museum, Napa Valley Art Museum, de Young Museum, and Pacific Film Archive.
Yashar is currently an Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts and teaches digital photography at Berkeley City College and Las Positas College. He also has taught as a visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute, Saint Mary’s College, and UC Berkeley's Academic Talent Development Program.
Mehri Yazdani has exhibited her paintings internationally for the past several years. Her work has been presented in Greece, Germany, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Washington, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ms. Yazdani has received numerous awards on the East Coast including the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for outstanding accomplishment in the Fine Arts and the William Emlon Cresson Traveling Scholarship to Europe.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Ms. Yazdani has lived in the United States for the last forty-five years. She has a degree in English Literature from Tehran University. Her post graduate studies included Persian Literature and Middle Eastern Languages at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her Fine Arts degree is from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
Mehri Yazdani's painting evolved from her love for the art of ancient Persia, Greece, and Egypt. Her semi-abstract images give new form to ancient motifs, creating a unique style. Her vibrant colors, the texture of her canvases with their irregular surfaces reminiscent of the peeling paint of old frescoes, and the simplicity of her shapes all convey the expressiveness of Classical art.
Ms. Yazdani now lives in Sacramento. There is a permanent public display of six of her paintings in the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection at the Library of Sacramento State University.
With an obsessive focus on material and forms that embody subjective vs. objective sense of selfhood, Termeh’s work explores themes of personal, political, and economic displacement and cultural representation. Her recent projects are an inquiry into the nature of belonging and attempts to claim one’s place as subversive activity. She exploits objects, images, and language found within the collective consciousness and personal realm to the point of fetishistic iconography as a process of reflection and affirmation.
Misha Zadeh was born in Tehran and raised in Seattle. She graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in graphic design and interdisciplinary visual art. She has worked as a graphic designer and illustrator and as the sole proprietor of a greeting card company (Turquoise Creative), where she sold her handmade, cut-paper, and letterpress stationery via retailers throughout North America and Europe. Her work has been featured in numerous publications such as RealSimple and O, the Oprah Magazine.
Misha has received recognition for her bold and graphic posters for the Seattle Iranian Festival, as well as her more recent artwork in response to the Women’s March on Washington.
She is currently expanding her art licensing opportunities with new illustrations and surface patterns rendered in cut-paper, pen and ink, watercolor, and digital illustration.
Beheshteh Zebhi is a New York based fashion photographer and film director. She gained her master's degree in Fashion Photography from the School of Visual Art, NYC. Her work has been published nationally and internationally and she has held many solo and group exhibitions in Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Dubai, the United States and the UK.
Born and educated in Tehran, Iran, Behnaz Sohrabian started painting as little child and continued her passion professionally from the age of 13. Behnaz received a BS in Applied Chemistry, a BA in Painting and a Master of Arts in Art Studies. After receiving her master’s degree, she immigrated to Oklahoma, America to be near family. Speaking about her work, Behnaz commented that “My work is about me, my life, being a woman and the struggles that women still face in this era. I paint women as people- strong people with depth and power. I paint them as delicate and sensitive, but not weak.