ArtAttack is proud to present our first ‘Artist of the Week’, Sarvin Haghighi. Artists of the week are selected by the ArtAttack team from the diverse and eclectic group of artist users on our app.
Born in Iran in 1979 in the midst of the Iranian revolution, Sarvin Haghighi experienced both great joys and harsh challenges from an early age. The privilege and independence of her early childhood quickly gave way to war and oppression. To fulfill the human need for self-expression, Sarvin took to art as a young girl. Sarvin found her unique voice flowing intuitively through oils and canvas. While working at her easel Sarvin captures cherished childhood memories, honours the timeless traditions of her people, and comments on the social and cultural dimensions of women’s experiences in contemporary Middle Eastern society.
As an adult, Sarvin has become a global citizen, leaving Tehran for Dubai and eventually Chicago, where she is a proud member of the Zhou B Art community. While passion for her Persian roots provides continual inspiration for the young artist, it is her cross-cultural exposure that provides universal subtext to her work. From her beginning as a single censored voice, Sarvin Haghighi’s art now amplifies the powerful voices of many the world over who long for peace and freedom.
I had the chance to talk to Sarvin about her career so far, and find out more about her artistic practise.
What inspires / motivates you?
The amount of influences that can affect the nature and creativity of an artist’s work is countless. I think to pinpoint a true inspiration is difficult. As Picasso once said:
‘Inspiration exists but it has to find you working’
However I can say my passion for art and for sharing my culture with others motivates me. Seeing people with completely different cultures and background enjoying my work both motivates and inspires me. I’m grateful to have been among those lucky ones, who have found a path on which I try to find excellence through passion-inspired motivation.
You often merge traditional Iranian art forms with a contemporary sensibility – how long has this been part of your practice?
Growing up in Iran, I was painting from an early age. I consider my parents my biggest influences. My mom is a painter and naturally we all learned a lot from her. My dad is a civil engineer with a great love for poetry. Coming from Iran with such a rich culture and so many great poets, it was only natural for me to grow up reading poetry. Having traveled across different parts of Iran and with the knowledge from my dad, I got to appreciate the art of architecture, the colors and shapes in Iranian rugs, the symbols, traditions etc. I try to bring all these beautiful aspects in my works in a way that not only is visually interesting, but also starts a dialogue for people to want to know more.
It seems you are very much a ‘global citizen’, having left Tehran for Dubai and now residing in Chicago – how does this cross-cultural exposure influence your work?
Coming from Iran and being so inspired by the culture and traditions, I truly believe getting to know any culture is inspiring. Traveling for me has been one of my passions as well, getting to know different cultures and traditions has always influenced my work in some ways. It really makes you think outside the box sometimes.
As an example for a group exhibition held at Evanston Art Center, I came up with an installation which I called ‘Whispering Walls’, building on the notion of walls, and how they serve to protect and safeguard. I conceived this installation as a way to represent the fused reality of my hybrid existence. The piece is meant to link together the equally rich, but often diametrically opposed cultures of the Eastern and Western worlds.
I choose glass blocks for the exterior of this piece, as they are commonplace here in Chicago – my new home since moving here from Dubai in 2013. They speak to the architectural significance and wonder of this great city. And they present a nice, polished façade – much like many of us try to do in daily life. Yet their transparency allows the viewer to get a suggestive glimpse at what lies beneath.
While the overall color palette speaks to American patriotism, and my new home – what’s imbedded between the exterior panels is what speaks to my core. As a child, my parents would read to me the poetry of Rumi, which to this day remains a large part of my soul. I like to think his words whisper through these foreign walls to the viewer – conveying a universal and timeless message.
We recently had the pleasure to interview the Zhou Brothers when they were in London – what’s it like being part of the Zhou B community in Chicago?
I’m very grateful to be part of Zhou B community in Chicago. The Zhou Brothers are very supportive of the artists in their community and if you are an artist who have a vision this is a place you really want to be. Every third Friday of the month, we have an open studio where the whole building opens up to the public. It is a great opportunity for artists and their supporters to meet, connect and grow. Also I’m sure I won’t be alone in saying that the Director of exhibitions at Zhou B – Sergio Gomez – has been a great support and having him by my side has helped me make sure I’m on the right path. Ever since I moved to Chicago I wanted to be part of Zhou B community and I couldn’t be more grateful.
How does a strong online / digital presence, enable artists to have a greater dialogue with their global audience?
We now live in an era where you need to be online otherwise you don’t exist, especially for artists like me who have moved locations, and need to find their audience. I think it’s giving artists a great platform to be able to showcase and connect directly to art enthusiasts. It certainly has helped me not only share my art globally and make great connections, but also to keep a diary on my own progress and document everything as I go.
Have you got any future projects / plans lined up?
Being in Chicago and mainly being a resident artist at Zhou B Art Center, there are so many opportunities that comes by throughout the year but I can list some of the upcoming events that I’m very excited about: I’m honoured to be part of a group exhibition in New York this summer curated by Sergio Gomez and Luis Martin, I will be showcasing some pieces among very talented artists.
I also have another group exhibition in Turin/Italy as well this summer. I will showcase some of my pieces in Harold Washington Library in Chicago from June 17th till August 12th 2016. Finally I also have a Solo exhibition in September at Lillstreet Gallery in Chicago. I will have all the information and updates as we get closer to these dates on my website and social media.
– Harry Dougall
To see more of Sarvin’s work, visit her profile on ArtAttack App! GB link below or just search ‘ArtAttack – Share Sell Network’ on App Store:
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