New Iranian Fiber Art

Submitted by Abigail Doan

One of the most rewarding aspects of curating last May’s exhibit, (Re)Fashioning Fiber at Greenspaces NY, was the joyful weaving together of a diverse roster of artists and designers from all corners of the globe. This summer long exhibition showcased the fiber work of celebrated American and Canadian artists, as well invited NYC-based sustainable fashion designers Tara St. James of Study NY, Eko-Lab’s Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard and Melissa Kirgam, ‘Fearless Dreamer’ Meiling Chen, and Kaori Yamazaki of Organic Shop.

I was fortunate, through my connections with Greenmuseum to be in touch with two outstanding fiber artists from the Iranian New Art group, a collective of Iranian artists and students who use recycled and natural (typically fiber) materials to draw attention to the ecological and social issues of their homeland. Atefeh Khas and Tara Goodarzy had never shown their work in the U.S. before, and I felt that it was vital to introduce their installation and sculptural projects to a broader audience as a means to illustrate what connects and allies us as environmentally conscious artists.

Both Atefeh and Tara have been actively involved with recent environmental festivals organized by the Paradise Art Center in Polour, Iran, a residency retreat center founded by environmental sculptor, Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, a friend and collaborator of mine.

Their projects to date have included crocheted wool and spun fiber installed as webbing in vacant Persian interiors, dense forests, and as organically generated diagrams on remote island coasts and desert salt flats. These site-specific creations seem to transcend the boundaries of ‘women’s work’ with their haunting outlines and schemes for ethereal but very convincing activism.

One of the interactive projects that Atefeh and Tara shared with (Re)Fashioning Fiber visitors was a care package of hand-crocheted fiber ‘peace bracelets’ made by women in Iran. Given that the artists were not in attendance at the opening, this was a very real way of sharing the language of fiber and borderless relations in a conversation-generating manner. It was great to see folks at the opening wearing these bracelets while viewing the exhibit and sharing their ideas about fiber, textiles, and the state of the environment.

Equally engaging is Iranian New Art’s Seventy Thousands Curtains project, based on the discovery of light-filled and bejeweled curtains during prophet Mohammad’s ascension to heaven. This site-specific textile performance was created on the hills of Hormoz Island in Iran. Each printed textile curtain or scrim is held up to the light by a female student from the local secondary school.

For more information on the Iranian New Art’s ongoing activities, you can also follow them on Facebook via this link. Their 30th Environmental Art Festival in Shushtar, Iran will soon be held at Chamran University, from December 1 to 3, 2010.

*All images are courtesy of the artists, Iranian New Art, and their photographers.

About Abigail: I am a writer and environmental fiber artist residing in NYC and Europe. My eco-textile and art farming projects are a means to create sustainable solutions and visual links to the global challenges we collectively face. I am also a mother of twins.

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