Iranian American culture is rich with political significance. Artists who have been exiled from Iran inject their work with longing for what they've left behind as well as dreams of a time when they can be reunited with their country of origin.
The work of the earliest Iranian American visual artists forms the foundation that inspires today's up-and-coming Iranian American artists. These young artists, including the children of Iranian immigrants, are producing innovative work inspired by the generation of artists that came before them.
Painters Nahid Hagigat and Nicky Nodjoumi, photographer and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, and sculptor and architect Siah Armajani are just four Iranian-American artists who set the precedent for young Iranian American artists working today.
Hagigat is a painter and printmaker. Her printed work often uses brightly layered colors. Her methods include batik style printing as well as hand-painting.
Hagigat was born in Tehran in 1943. She lives in New York City with her husband, Nicky Nodjoumi.
Nodjoumi was born in 1942. His paintings, which feature a blue and grey color palette, express satirical figures and images related to Iran's current and past political state.
Neshat was born in 1957. Her work includes photography, filmmaking, and directing films and performance art (including directing the opera Aida).
Neshat's photography is predominately black-and-white and focuses on women in Islamic and Persian culture. However, she is best known for directing the film Women Without Men, which won the best directing prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2009. She currently lives in New York City.
Rather than live in New York City like the three artists above, Armajani, a sculptor and architect, lives in Minnesota. He was born into a Christian family in Tehran in 1939. After attending Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Armajani began to experiment with computer modeling for creating architectural formations.
Armajani's models (called "maquettes") became works of art on their own and are displayed in exhibits around the world. He has also designed famous bridges in Staten Island and Minneapolis as well as the famous Round Gazebo in France.
The first generation of Iranian-American artists has set the foundation for upcoming artists such as Desiree Akhavan, Arya Ghavaniah, Yasaman Moradi, and many others. It's clear that Iranian American culture is flourishing in the United States, and that its impact will only continue to grow in the future.