I am the youngest child of immigrant parents, who left Iran to escape the woes of the 1979 revolution. Born in Toronto, Canada, I later moved to Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of seven, where my family settled and established new roots. My first memories are of doodling and drawing in my spare time. My mother noticed this preference for creative expression, and she paved the way for my first real instruction in the arts. I visited Tehran, Iran, at the age of ten, for the first time to meet relatives and learn about my family’s past. Until that moment, my family’s history was completely alien to me. During that summer, my mother orchestrated the opportunity for me to take private lessons under the late-renowned painter, Abbas Katouzian, a protégé of Kamal-ol-molk (the court painter to several of the Shahs of Iran). Fortunately, I was well versed in spoken Farsi. It was the language of our household, so I could easily communicate with Katouzian during my lessons. He taught me oil painting techniques based on still-life subjects and portraits. He openly critiqued my every brushstroke in a direct way, which conditioned me to accept straight-forward and honest styles of criticism at a young age. My fascination centered on the richness of oil paint and I found the process of painting to be meditative. This summer experience in Iran served as a diving board into my artistic development over the next decade of my life as I continued to sharpen my technical skill. 

 

I developed an unrelenting ambition to create artwork, and I received various forms of recognition at state-level competitions through my school. During my junior year of high school, I was nominated and accepted as a finalist to attend a summer residency at Valdosta State University through the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program in the category of Visual Art. I was mentored by the artist, Harry Ally, who was highly influential in my decision to study art in college. I began my studies at Georgia State University in 2008, in the wake of a devastating economic recession. I cautiously chose to pursue a degree in Studio Art while taking Biology/Chemistry courses on the side as a backup plan. I enrolled in a ceramic sculpture course my sophomore year taught by the artist Christina A. West, whose body of work focuses on the human form. It resonated with me deeply. It was my first ceramic course but it was highly motivating to learn this new form of art quickly and prove myself worthy of my peers. Meanwhile, I watched the economic turmoil of the recession unravel around me, and there was a great deal of uncertainty regarding what a career in art would look like given the challenges in the years ahead. Consequentially, I switched my major to Biology/Chemistry in order to pursue a more stable career, which was a stark contrast to what my life’s trajectory had been up to that point. It was a bittersweet moment when Christina A. West graciously agreed to write my letter of recommendation to dental school, considering her class was the last one I would attend as an art student. From that period onward, I focused all of my time and energy into obtaining my doctorate in dentistry, which I received in 2016, and then I immediately began practicing dentistry full-time. 

 

In the years that followed, I slowly gravitated back to my passion for art and I started to experiment with various media, including tapestry-weaving, pottery, acrylic, and oil painting. In 2019, I won the “Best In Show” award at a juried art exhibition through the Art League Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, for a hand-woven tapestry piece that was symbolic of my reentry into the arts after a long hiatus. This recognition encouraged me to persist, and, more importantly, to forever seek the joy that comes with experimenting and creating my own body of work. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and support that I have been graced with on every step of my journey, and I look forward to what the future holds. 

Letter from the Artist:

 

My current body of work revolves around portraiture. I chose this theme because it resonates with my never-ending quest to discover my own identity and the identity of those around me. This theme is also deeply rooted in my fascination and affinity for the human face and the endless nuances that surround, and make up, a person’s essence.  Every face carries a story — their story. However, things are not always as they seem. In other words and to use the age-old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” A person’s inner essence, while certainly present in their appearance, runs much deeper than what appears on the surface. It is akin to a vibrational frequency that radiates from each person, like an aura of energy that can be felt better than it can be described. However, with the advent of the internet and social media, more people around the world are grappling with how they want to present their outermost image to the world. The question of whether their presentation is genuine to their true essence has an elusive answer in this time more than ever. This essence of a person can get lost in translation when the individual intentionally manipulates and carefully curates the body of images that they share with the world. The viewer is then vulnerable to the downstream effects of the potential misrepresentation of who or what they are seeing. Through my body of work, it is my intention to explore how various people value different things in the portrayal of their own image - such as authenticity or perfectionism. I hope to shift the perspective of the viewer by not only highlighting unique features, but also celebrating the differences of human beings.