Zahra Amirabadi: Cross-Cultural Artist Speaks on Freedom and Expression

I was born in the spring of ’82 in Tehran, Iran. At a very young age, I demonstrated artistic talent by making handcrafted gifts for friends and family members, and picked up a few painting techniques on my own. I entered art school in 9th grade and started my academic studies in illustration and painting following my passion for art, at which time I experienced working with a variety of media from darkroom analog photography and silk-screen printing to wood carving and leather art. I finished my Associate Degree in Visual Communication followed by a BFA in Graphic Design, and while working as a graphic designer for numerous companies, had a chance to exhibit a number of my sculptures, photographs and self-portraits before coming to the United States in fall 2009.

A theme present in my recent paintings, figure drawing, has become a favorite. A great deal of my artwork is comprised of figures ranging from subjective and surrealistic to more natural yet not entirely realistic figures; my trio (two of which are featured in So to Speak’s Summer Issue) of nude paintings being an example of the latter, in which I combine two different techniques to demonstrate the two sides of every character, and to point out how we all have our own unique views and understandings of the world around us. One of my clay sculptures, titled “Love Is Born,” is another example of my passion for incorporating human figures into art. The sculpture shows a man and a woman, a sign of love, along with a fetus in the woman’s womb and a toddler by their side, symbolizing birth of love, growth, and the passing of time. The candle planted in the sculpture is another symbol of being consumed and at the same time ignited by love.  (On right: Equilibrium)

Also among the pieces featured in the summer 2011 issue of So to Speak are two photographs, titled “Organon” and “Idle Youth,” each of which is a combination of a self-portrait with another photo, resulting in an image conveying a meaning quite different from the sum of its parts. Another two photographs of mine, “Reborn” and “The Fire Within,” demonstrate visual effects that were created at the time of the photography by using long exposure and manual movement of either the subject or the camera. (On left: Nude Series)

I had a constant struggle with inequalities between the rights of men and women while in Iran, and was even the subject of many such prejudices; one of which happened when I elected a topic for my Bachelor’s thesis straining from the Islamic culture and was condemned by the faculty. After arriving in the U.S., pursuing a life in a society without censorship and thought control, I started making art once again, though this time with no limitations; contrary to the overarching theme of my past artwork. I am now a California resident and have since departed from that depressed and delusional ambiance in my art, letting my mentality intertwine with my paintings, producing bold illustrations of women with no boundaries and no barricades.

****** ****Reborn                                                         The Fire Within



Zahra Amirabadi, Featured Artist, Cover Art, Pg. 23, 24, 25

All art shown in this post has been displayed with permission from creator

So to Speak 2011 Online Summer Issue featuring poetry and art







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