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Curatorial Portfolio Mohammad T. Manzari


TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Page 2

Organic Emergence Page 3

Rhodes to Sacrifice Page 6

Ancestral Knowledge Page 9

On Point Page 12

23 Space Page 14

Acknowledgements Page 17


Introduction Mohammad Manzari is an independent art curator based in New York, NY and Potomac, MD. He is also the founder of Samadhi Advisors, a creative agency that brings awareness and access to extraordinary forms of artistic expression. Mohammad focuses on the development of interactive experiences that transcend traditional genres of exhibition and design. He has worked closely with artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, whose creative talents include photography, glass sculpture, ebru (marbling), gem-cutting, mixed-media, and mural painting.

This portfolio highlights a series of public exhibitions, private viewings, corporate commissions, site-specific installations, and street-art projects that Mohammad has organized and curated in 2018. In 2019, Mohammad looks forward to expanding his collaborations with non-for-profit cultural institutions and community-driven arts spaces.

Mohammad Manzari (L) and Zev Weitman (R) at Salomon Arts Gallery in New York, New York. 2018


Public Exhibition

Organic Emergence Queens Botanical Garden
 Flushing, New York

The Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) tapped Mohammad Manzari to curate Organic Emergence, an exhibition for its 2018-2019 Art in the Garden program. Featuring a series of paintings by Serkan Altinoz, Organic Emergence is an exploration of our world’s most basic elements: fire, air, earth, and water. The exhibition was also designed to connect visitors with the QBG’s diverse range of plant life, reflecting the lushness and beauty of the garden grounds.

Full Bloom, Mixed Media on Canvas, 34.5 x 47.5 inches
 Serkan Altinoz, 2018


From Left to Right: Floral Passion, Father, Sea-Tree Horse, Bauhinia, Dancing Fairy, by Serkan Altinoz

The QBG is a non-for-profit urban oasis where people, plants, and cultures are celebrated through inspiring gardens, innovative educational programs, and real-world applications of environmental stewardship. Built on property owned by the City of New York, the QBG evolved from a five-acre venue

showcased at the 1939 World’s Fair to a cherished landmark in one of America’s most diverse neighborhoods. In addition to providing creative direction and curation services, Mohammad supervised inventory management of the artworks.


Curatorial Statement

Artist Statement

As water continually changes phase within our atmosphere, it reflects the metamorphosis and regeneration process that keep organic life in a harmonic balance with all other forms of creation. In this exhibition, Organic Emergence, Serkan Altinoz explores the limitless creative potential of water as a medium through which pigments and heat can combine to create complex geometric patterns, fractal-like detail, and stunning abstractions.

Many of the rich hues and patterns seen so clearly by the human eye when observing a rose or chrysalis are difficult to capture with a discrete color palette. I am constantly seeking out the lushness and beauty that we enjoy during quiet moments in nature. This exploration has led me to develop a new technique that draws upon ebru (traditional paper marbling), while also integrating synthetic paints, solvents, and fire.  This new approach has resulted in a wider variety of visual effects and compositions, reflecting the diversity of the settings from which I draw inspiration. By approaching each work with a flexible intention, I aim to mirror the improvisational power of our natural environment.

This series of paintings illustrates the emergence of forms like flowers, butterflies, and fibrous tree-like structures from the gentle surface flows of the water on which Altinoz paints. The varied hues and textures seen in these artworks are a result of a delicate balance between the effects of physical tools to manipulate fluid flow and the water’s intrinsic physical properties—such as temperature, density, salinity, and depth.

— Serkan Altinoz Artist

At a time when technological progress is pushing society towards a more digital, algorithmically designed future, these artworks serve as reminders of the connection between humanity and our environment. Organic Emergence intends to provide its audience with a natural bridge to interpret and experience the effortlessly diverse visual landscape of Mother Earth. — Mohammad T. Manzari Curator


Private Viewing

Rhodes to Sacrifice Salomon Arts Gallery
 New York, New York In the spring of 2018, Mohammad Manzari was approached by inventor and gemcutter, Zev Weitman, to introduce a series of revolutionary diamond designs to an audience beyond the traditional jewelry market. Weitman’s patented diamond cuts, scientifically proven to maximize the light performance of polished stones, were long admired by diamond dealers on Manhattan’s 47th Street. Many industry players were hesitant to invest in any new designs, however, citing market pressure to produce existing cuts. After several months of careful thought, Mohammad suggested that Zev could pursue an alternative solution: to incorporate his diamonds into unique art objects. Elder of Mine, Mixed Media on Canvas, 24 x 48 inches
 Serkan Altinoz and Zev Weitman, 2018


Detail of Elder of Mine, a collaboration between artist Serkan Altinoz and gemcutter Zev Weitman.

By collaborating with other visual artists, Zev could expose his unique talents to a wider demographic. In contrast to the more conservative nature of the diamond industry, the art world often rewards creative visionaries for their progress, innovation, and creativity. After considering the proposal, Zev agreed to the idea and began meeting different artists,

including painter Serkan Altinoz. Zev and Serkan instantly connected, sharing stories of struggle, sacrifice, and persistence. Their bond matured, leading to Rhodes to Sacrifice, a collaborative series of artworks that shines a light on the legacy of sacrifice made by miners in the diamond industry.


Curatorial Statement Each each work in the series features a natural cut diamond, designed and mounted into the paintings by Weitman himself. The synergistic union of these two creators has produced an incredible body of work— one that serves as an unflinching mirror to the viewer, and a reminder to honor the immeasurable sacrifices of those who toil behind the veil.

Sacrifice is a recurring theme in many of the world’s greatest myths and religious traditions. Since prehistoric times, human societies have engaged in highly ritualized ceremonies to appease gods and ancestors, purify objects, or give thanks for gifts of abundance. And while the stories of some, like Jesus or Abraham, are woven into the narrative of our shared global history, the sacrifices of many others have been quietly forgotten through the ages.

— Mohammad T. Manzari Curator

This reality has united Zev Weitman, an American gemcutter and inventor based in New York City’s Diamond District, and Serkan Altinoz, a Turkish visual artist hailing from the Mediterranean coastal city of Izmir. The fusion of their unique talents, technical skills, and creative visions has culminated in Rhodes to Sacrifice: a historical retrospective that shines a light upon the legacy of sacrifice made by miners in the diamond industry.

About the Artists Since moving to the United States in 2013, Serkan Altinoz has started to combine certain elements of ebru, or traditional paper marbling, with a more free-form and experimental style that includes the use of organic spores, chemical solvents, enamel paints, and heat. For over 15 years, Zev Weitman’s meticulous, scientific approach to gem-cutting has produced a series of revolutionary diamond cuts. His patented designs for cutting gems enhance the brilliance and light dispersion of the finished stones, and have been featured in articles by both the optical physics community and Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

The series also provides viewers with a chance to reflect on the omnipresence of sacrifice in human life, and its role in our personal and collective evolutions. Altinoz’s bold and visually stunning style of painting builds on the foundational techniques of ebru, or traditional paper marbling. Trained in the secrets of this ancient form of aqueous surface design, Altinoz applies rich textures and ethereal layers upon mysterious, silhouetted figures that appear in the artworks. !8

Site-Specific Installation

Ancestral Knowledge 23 Space Gallery
 Long Island City, New York Mohammad Manzari partnered with artist Charles Lowrie to present Ancestral Knowledge: Spheres of Consciousness. This site-specific installation at Long Island City’s 23 Space Gallery was the Lowrie’s first major exhibition in New York City. With nearly 4,500 square feet at their disposal, Charles and Mohammad transformed raw industrial space into a labyrinth of visual sensations. Visitors had the opportunity to view more than a dozen artworks, including electrified glass sculptures, “light paintings”, and three-dimensional optical-art installations. In addition to serving as the exhibition’s curator, Mohammad was also responsible for production, media promotion, and securing corporate sponsorships.

Cosmic Consciousness, Glass Sculpture, 12 x 12 x 8 inches
 Charles Lowrie, 2018


Sphere of Consciousness, Fused Glass Sculpture, 16 inches-diameter, 2016

About the Artist driving him to adapt and integrate new techniques into his repertoire. As Lowrie’s evocative style continues to evolve, he remains steadfast in his mission to stretch the boundaries of human perception.

Charles Lowrie is a glass artist based in Maui, Hawaii. Classically trained and equipped with a contemporary vision, Lowrie began his career as an apprentice to Venetian master Pino Signoretto. In 2016, a series of residencies took Lowrie through Germany, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands-!10

Clockwise, from top left: 1. Feelin’ Alive, Electrified Glass Sculpture,
 14 x 6 x 6 inches, 2017 2. Cubed World, Illuminated Glass Sculpture,
 16 x 16 x 16 inches, 2018 3. Finding Out by Looking In, Faceted Glass Sculpture,
 18 x 12 x 8 inches, 2017


Corporate Commission

On Point Blanchard Building
 Long Island City, New York

On Point, an art collection curated by Mohammad Manzari, is currently on view at the Blanchard building in Long Island City, New York. The Blanchard is one of Related Companies’ newest projects, and was designed to be the neighborhood’s premier live/work/play development. Faced with the challenge of delivering an aesthetically pleasing and visually stimulating space, Related commissioned Mohammad to showcase a diverse range of contemporary artworks. In addition to providing curation and brand development services, Mohammad executed all operational and logistical aspects of the artwork exhibition. The On Point collection features artists Demetrius Manouselis, Mauricio Arenas, and Serkan Altinoz.


From Left to Right: Waverider #1, Mauricio Arenas; Cup Floweth Over, Serkan Altinoz; Waverider #2, Mauricio Arenas

Related Companies’ Senior Vice President, Patrick Sweeney, was a key advocate and supporter of On Point’s exhibition. In Related’s official press release, Sweeney stated, “Long Island City is a young and vibrant community, and quickly becoming one of New York’s most exciting places to live and work. Forward-thinking companies are looking at their real

estate beyond just a space to house employees, but rather for employee attraction and retention. The Blanchard Building and its curated cultural programming is a response to the need for unique, modern office space that also offers an engaging social setting desired by the tech and creative companies who call the neighborhood home.” !13

Public Art Project

23 Space Diplomat Envelope Building
 Long Island City, New York In April 2018, Mohammad Manzari partnered with street artist Mauricio Arenas (aka Degrupo) to develop 23 Space, a creative studio and pop-up gallery located at the Diplomat Envelope building in Long Island City, New York. What began as a tour of an abandoned warehouse space ultimately led to the creation of a popular destination for painters, sculptors, poets, and filmmakers. Mohammad and Degrupo focused on curating immersive experiences at 23 Space, creating opportunities for artists to expose their works at various stages of completion. By challenging the concept of what it means to “finish” a piece, 23 Space encouraged its visitors to appreciate the liminal phases of an artist’s creative process.


Daniel Cotto (Yaanco) completing his “Swamp Creatures” mural at 23 Space.

Street Art LIC was 23 Space’s public art initiative, inviting local, national, and international street artists to rehabilitate the facade of the Diplomat Envelope building. The beautification project was a great success, with Degrupo’s reputation as Long Island City’s most prolific street artist drawing many muralists to 23 Space. Uncutt Art, Helaena Blanch, Daniel Cotto, and DJ Barry were all among the artists who exhibited new works at the location.


Clockwise, from Top Left 1. Swamp Creature

Daniel Cotto, June 2018

2. Coffee Break

Helaena Blanch, July 2018

3. KIM-Pop

Helaena Blanch, June 2018

Additional muralists included Mauricio Arenas and UnCuttArt (creator of the Protect Yo’ Heart : 423 movement)



Thanks to Numa Roades for providing event photography services at the Salomon Arts Gallery and 23 Space. Thanks to Daniel Barry for providing additional photos of 23 Space’s street art projects and murals. Additional support for 23 Space was provided by Jonathan Janel, Israel Ortiz, and Mark Fridman. Support for the the Rhodes to Sacrifice series was provided by Gigi Salomon, Rodrigo Salomon, Reuven Kaufman, and Daniel Beauchemin. Thanks also to Serkan Altinoz for providing images of his artwork, including the cover art. Photos from the On Point exhibition were provided courtesy of The Related Companies’ communications team.


Š Mohammad Taghizadeh Manzari All Rights Reserved


Manzari Curatorial Portfolio  
Manzari Curatorial Portfolio