Sedentary Fragmentation Catalogue

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sedentary fragmentation

sophie loloi

azadeh gholizadeh

maryam hoseini

elnaz javani

yasamin ghanbari

nazafarin lotfi

raha raissnia

mehdi hosseini

hannibal alkhas

“ W hether personal or collective, memor y refers bac k by definition to the past that continues to be living by virtue of the transmission from generation to generation; this is the source of a resistance of memor y to its historiographical treatment.� Paul Ricoeur


In 1952 an Iranian-Assyrian student Hannibal Alkhas came to the U.S to study medicine, but decided instead to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There he studied under Boris Anisfeld, one of his most influential teachers. After returning to Iran, Alkhas helped modernize the pedagogy of painting in the School of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran, where he taught many prominent Iranian artists. In 1963 another young artist, Mehdi Hosseini, came to Chicago and enrolled in the painting department at the School of the Art Institute. Having experienced the Midwestern art scene, he returned to Iran and started teaching at art universities, becoming one of the pioneers of Iranian contemporary art. Though he is not heavily represented on the market, he is one of the leading historians of Persian painting and is on the faculty of the University of the Arts in Tehran. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many families moved to the U.S to seek a better life. These families stayed and gave birth to children who are now second generation Iranian-Americans. A few members of this generation have chosen to pursue art and have been constantly challenged by issues of identity due to their dual heritage. Many have struggled against art criticism that uses their heritage as an interpretive lens for their practice, which raises the question: Why have art critics, curators and audiences persisted in identifying these artworks with a particular region?

In 2010, despite financial hardship and sanctions, the next generation of artists came from Iran to pursue their graduate degrees in American art schools, which had been an uncommon choice for the previous 30 years. The lack of Iranian artists in the Western art scene sets narrow expectations for these recent immigrants, who were forced to respond to their experience in a new environment. “Sedentary Fragmentation� tries to bring together Iranian voices, generations, and alumni who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but whose practices are individual and different. This exhibition will show how these nine artists subtly use and reveal their identities in a politically complex milieu. Showcasing archival materials from the artists’ experience in both Chicago and Tehran, this exhibition offers challenging points of view about several generations of artists who are often misrepresented by having identities placed upon them that do not define them as artists.

Curated by Kimia Maleki


Tracing Lineages through Archives Nora Taylor Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art Art History, Theory and Criticism Department,​ School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Archival materials do more than stand witness to the passage of time, they help scholars contextualize events within the time that they were created. In art history, documents are also testimony to connections between artists and others, between art works and the context in which they were made. In this exhibition that traces the trajectory of artists or their families from Iran to the United States, all of whom were students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, letters, pamphlets and photographs serve to place their art works within the frame of human memory. They also link artists and their art works to biography. Not just in the form of a narrative, but by the power of suggestion through the sometimes invisible traces that they left behind. Their art works may be present for all to see, but their daily lives gradually recede into oblivion, blurred and faint as time goes by. Forgetting, however, goes hand in hand with remembering. In his book, Les formes de l’oubli, or Oblivion in English, Marc Augé stated that: “One must know how to forget in order to taste the full flavor of the present, of the moment, and of expectation, but memory itself needs forgetfulness: one must forget the recent past in order to find the ancient past again.” [1] What he means is that by the process of forgetting, one finds one’s way to recollection. With this exhibition, Kimia Maleki is ensuring that these artists are not forgotten and more importantly, they are remembered because of the time that they spent in Chicago.

[1] Marc AugĂŠ, Oblivion, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004, p. 3.

By choosing to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, these artists took a leap into the unknown and most left their country to benefit their education. Their time in Chicago would prove to be transformational, not only for their own growth and development as artists but also for the artistic milieu from which they came. Their relations to other artists in Iran would forever be changed. The kind of education that SAIC provides, one that involves critical thinking and self-reflection over knowledge of technique and materials, secured their place as artists who can in turn generate and influence ideas about art in Iran. Art school is a method of networking, of making connections from teachers to students and from students to students. For artists who come from countries that are generally isolated from international art centers, these linkages and lineages are crucial. They act as lines that can be drawn from Chicago to Tehran and back again, communicating ideas about art that rise above the local, or what can be seen as provincial spheres. These artists act as mediators or messengers, elevating platforms for art making both in Chicago and Tehran. Chicago benefits from the presence of these students as much as Tehran benefits from learning lessons from Chicago via these artistic ambassadors. This exhibition bears witness to these lineages that are created by artists in their journeys from Iran to the United States and the threads that connect them to both places.


Sedentary Fragmentation Kimia Maleki Master of Arts Administration & Policy, 16’


“Dilam barāyat tang shudih, Ānita jān, …”, Hannibal Alkhas writes from Iran in 1982 to his Iranian-American daughter in Paris, saying that he misses her. He explains that he is using Persian calligraphy in the letter so that he can improve his technique and she can practice reading Farsi. Displacement often results in a feeling of misplacement. “Sedentary Fragmentation” refers to the challenges of missing, seeking, and recovering an inner state or territory. When an artist desires to move, to mobilize, and to create, it doesn’t happen instantly upon arrival. Disintegration of artistic practice tends to occur when there is a hesitation to understand the environment and to map out new territory. Creating a space can counterintuitively be acquired by remaining immobile, by re-creation through sedimentation. It may come about – or, more befittingly, take place–through thinking in a native language, integrating Farsi script into a work, lying on a Persian carpet, matting an image that offers a bird's-eye view of one's home country, or simply reflecting on one's roots while creating an artwork. Sedentary Fragmentation juxtaposes the voices of artists whose mindful practices engage with an other-than-Western culture. New York City and Chicago were less common destinations than Paris and Rome for Iranians who wanted to study art between 1950-1980. Iran had a rich history of sending artists to study abroad. During the Qajar dynasty (1785-1925), they were sent

[2] Āl Ahmad, Jalāl, and Mustafā Zamān’nīyā. 2001. Safar-i Imrīkā. Tihrān: Kiatāb-i Sīāmak. 324 [1] Fereshteh, M. Hussein. 1994. Problems and Issues in Higher Education: Perspectives on Iran-United States Educational Relations and Influences.

to France, Italy and the Netherlands to learn classical painting in the studios of European masters. During the Pahlavi era, as part of a higher education study abroad program funded by the Shah, Iranians were given the opportunity to study in North America. As a result, by 1976 [1], more than 20,000 Iranian students came to study in the U.S., constituting the largest non-U.S. citizen student population from any foreign country. Only a small number, however, majored in art programs. Hannibal Alkhas (BFA 1957, MFA 1959) returned to Iran as an established artist and devoted educator after finishing his studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with a hiatus from 1963-1969 during which he taught at Monticello College near St Louis, Missouri. In his memoir, the prominent Iranian author and critic Jalal Al-e-Ahmad recalls his 1965 visit to the artist: “[Bahman] Mohasses once wanted to do this [draw my portrait], but I declined. But when Alkhas asked, I accepted without hesitation. So it was the second time [that he did my portrait] and we were in St. Louis in the basement of his house…I’m sitting on this ancient couch, far from natural daylight, between two dim lamps, and the rest of the basement is filled with the odds and ends of life; Alkhas had converted a corner of it into a makeshift studio and a closet…”[2].



Alkhas, a decidedly polyhedral individual, played many roles as artist, educator, mentor, poet, translator, etc. At the same time that he was painting portraits of his family and friends, he was highly preoccupied by questions of identity and politics. Through the anti-capitalist, socio-political aspects of his work, infused with a tender attachment to his family and friends (all of which are showcased in his works), a portrait of Hannibal emerges as an artist-activist who produced a large body of artwork while also training countless artists, many of whom went on to become professional painters and teachers in their own right. Throughout his long career, he also drew upon his Assyrian heritage to explore the history of civilization and cultural production, playfully incorporating ancient motifs into his work, referencing canonical artists, and even creating collages of small objects and illustrations. Mehdi Hosseini (BFA 1968) is a key figure in the Iranian art world and an esteemed faculty member in the painting and art history departments of the University of the Arts in Tehran. During his studies at SAIC from 1963-1968, he took full advantage of the resources available in both the school and museum. Hosseini’s work in this exhibition includes the sketches he did in Chicago as an undergraduate student. He is truly an exemplary SAIC alumnus, having gone on to become a pioneer and groundbreaking artist and educator in his home country. In early 2008, when Nazafarin Lotfi (MFA 2011) entered the United States on a single entry visa, it was a challenging time due to sanctions and therefore few Iranian families were sending their children abroad to study art. She stayed in Chicago, working hard until her work began to take shape. Now, her abstract language and poetic pieces emerge from an insightful, deep understanding of her environment. Lotfi comprehends her materials well and much of her work stems from questioning, through an artistic consciousness, the relationship of time, space and form.

During the gap between the Pahlavi era and the Islamic Revolution, only a few Iranians and Iranian-Americans studied at SAIC. Raha Raissnia (BFA 1992) moved to Chicago after finishing high school. Raissnia’s work-process arises from her interest in layering and playing with painting, drawing and movie making. Her poetic and imaginary piece allows for blurred boundaries between past memories and the present. She uses fragments of found and photographed film that are hand-painted, collaged and inventively displayed in glass mounts, thereby manipulating cinema’s structural elements. “To Persia” a 2-minute video piece by Iranian-American Yasamin Ghanbari (MFA 2010) is not merely about Iranian-ness, it is also about searching for what is missed. When Ghanbari tries to come to terms with the significance for her of a Persian carpet – which could simply represent her challenging relationship with her Iranian heritage – she tries to remember the sound of her Iranian father's voice. A few years later she starts to learn Farsi, a language that only he, of all the people in her life, spoke. Another Iranian-American, Sophie Loloi (BFA 2016), travels to New Mexico to visit the same latitude as that of her parents' country. Eventually, in 2016, she ends up again at that latitude, but this time in northwestern Iran, where she portrays her symbolic visual figures by the desiccated shore of Lake Urmia, Iran's endorheic salt lake. In “Wind” (2015), her poetic photos depict the wind as it blows toward the East, and in “Azur” (2016), the desires of an inclined figure are directed toward the West, a West that is no more, reminiscent of Rumi’s line: “I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea.” Azadeh Gholizadeh (MFA 2012) draws on her background in architecture, navigating the challenges raised by her dual role as architect and installation artist while also addressing the difficulty of being far away from home. Her salient pieces, constructed from a variety of materials, embody geometrical shapes that reflect her characteristically aesthetical and logical mind.



The art of Elnaz Javani (MFA 2015) is shaped by a constant process of inspiration, construction, material experimentation and re-assessment. This approach stems from her role as an informed, socially conscious artist, who is discerning with regard to current events where she lives and back home. For Javani, there is never a single perfect choice, nor a fixed point of view. The work of the hand is always at the core of her work, as is the connection to humanness, body and memory. The works of Maryam Hoseini (MFA 2016) always point to the possibility of flow, of something new emerging. Past and present carry this openness within them. Hoseini narrates stories of her imaginary world, inspired by her personal experience growing up outside the city, close to nature. Playing with figures, she invites her audience to delve into her paintings and to join in and engage with her fantasy tales. This exhibition is a first step toward acknowledging the work of generations of artists who came to study in Chicago. Some of them returned home, some stayed, and some are still seeking to situate themselves. Sedentary Fragmentation comprises works by those who have faced comparable challenges and yet have never met in person, except through the commonalities of their practices. Serving as a point of convergence, this exhibition provides a small platform to bring their voices together.


hannibal alkhas (1930-2010)

hannibal alkhas

sedentary fragmentation


Hannibal Alkhas (1930-2010) painter, sculptor, writer, poet and translator. Alkhas began his artistic training as a child in Iran and went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1959. In addition to over fifty years as a professional painter, he had a long career in Iran and in the United States as an art professor and mentored many aspiring artists. He also established the successful Gilgamesh Gallery, one of the very first modern art galleries in Iran. His works have been exhibited in Iran, Europe, Canada, Australia, Israel, Dubai, and the US. He published art criticism, collections of short stories, children’s books and memoirs in Farsi, and composed many poems in his native Assyrian (Syriac). After attending his 80th birthday retrospective exhibition in Iran, Hannibal Alkhas died in California on September 14, 2010. He wrote and painted actively until his final illness.


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Family Portrait, Chicago-Tehran Anita Alkhas


Any material within reach of an artist risks being repurposed. The cardboard on which Hannibal Alkhas painted a quick portrait of his bride, Audrey Larson Alkhas, was probably torn from a moving box. During their years in Chicago, they lived in over half a dozen apartments, which helped boost the average number of residences during their 25 years of marriage to nearly one per year. They met in the early 1950s at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where, like many students, they started in night classes before being accepted full time, Hannibal focusing on painting and Audrey on art education. Hannibal’s father, a prominent Iranian-Assyrian intellectual, wanted his son to follow in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, who had studied medicine in the United States. His decision to send his son to a Jesuit institution, Loyola University Chicago, was motivated by its location near his sister-in-law, Nelly, and by the excellent education he himself had received from French Lazarists in Urmia, Iran. However, Hannibal soon gravitated away from pre-med toward philosophy and then art. Audrey, a native Chicagoan, also went against her parents’ hopes for her by choosing a non-lucrative major and by marrying an immigrant. She ended up spending half her life as an immigrant herself, first in Iran and later in Spain.

The cardboard portrait hints at the money-tight life of struggling artists, yet the few existing photos of Hannibal and Audrey at that time challenge the prevalent image of the solitary artist in a garret, showing how making art can also be highly social and collaborative. They and their friends are pictured striking poses, framing paintings, and selling works at the annual student art fair. Starting in 1956 they would also juggle family life; their first child, Buna, was born two months after Audrey graduated. Hannibal continued on to pursue his MFA and, like many of his fellow students, worked full-time, as a custodian in a warehouse. In a sense, when Audrey got her first job at a local elementary school, they both became teachers, planning lessons and evaluating her students’ work together, a habit they kept up over the years in the various teaching positions they held. In 1959 Hannibal’s father died and they moved to Iran. Hannibal was hired by the Tehran High School of the Arts and Audrey by the Tehran American School. The prominent painter Manouchehr Safarzadeh, who was in Hannibal’s first group of students, has described the impact of his arrival: “Our school didn’t have any teachers to speak of and then Alkhas came. Alkhas came and he really brought us new things. He had been in America studying under an old Russian professor who worked him so hard that he cried. He would say: ‘Learn to draw and then you can paint! A person who can’t draw will never become a painter.’ And he brought these things from there and, just like that, gave them to us.” 1 That Russian professor was the painter and set designer Boris Anisfeld, who taught at the Art Institute from 1929-1957, where Hannibal was among his last students. Anisfeld first gained acclaim for his set design of Hugo von Hofmannstahl’s Persian fantasy, “The Marriage of Zobeide.” Christian Brinton, who organized his U.S. exhibition premiere, lauded the broad eclecticism of Anisfeld and his compatriots in their choice of source materials, ranging from Poe to Baudelaire to the Bible to the Baghdad story cycle or even “a recently deciphered Assyrian cuneiform tablet.” 2



Hannibal’s own broad sweep of content is directly inspired by Anisfeld, as is his bold use of color and his championing of figurative art. Their steadfast adherence to their own vision is such that their work “always offends someone.”3 Anisfeld’s artistic influence on Hannibal and their shared affinities are evident in a number of Anisfeld’s paintings, perhaps the most striking example being “Descent into Hades” (1969). As teachers, they were charismatic and instilled discipline, working side-by-side with students and leading by example through their high productivity. They were well-known for their blunt criticism, but also for their generosity of spirit and the friendship they extended to students long after their studies. It is unlikely that Audrey took a class with Anisfeld, and there are only three extant oil paintings by her from this time period. Having graduated from the Art Institute before moving to her adoptive country, Iran, she does not fit squarely into the framework of this exhibition. She did, however, participate in the Tehran art scene. Her light-handed, harmonious work was featured in group shows of women at the Iran-America Society and in a family exhibit with Hannibal and Buna; she designed the beautiful doors that hid Hannibal’s erotic joke paintings (the gallery exhibit that attracted one of the highest attendances and, arguably, the broadest spectrum of society to date); she helped establish and run the Gilgamesh Gallery, which launched the careers of many young artists; and she often assisted Hannibal in critiquing the work of his Tehran University students. Hannibal and Audrey intentionally blurred the lines between artist and teacher, and between artist and student. Their many students in Iran and the United States can attest to their dedication, pedagogical skills, and capacity to inspire. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s proud lineage flows through both of them.

Interviewed in the documentary Safarnameh. Dir. Keyvan Azad. 2009.


Brinton, Christian. The Boris Anisfeld exhibition: with introduction and catalogue of the paintings. New York: Redfield-Kendrick-Odell Company, 1918.


Chatfield-Taylor, Charles. “Anisfeld’s American Legacy.” Boris Anisfeld catalogue raisonné. 3


Hannibal and his wife Audrey critiquing artworks. 1977. Gelatin Silver Print. Courtesy of Anita Alkhas.

Audrey in Gilgamesh Gallery, Tehran, Iran. 1961. Gelatin Silver Print. Courtesy of Anita Alkhas.

mehdi hosseini (1943, Iran)

mehdi hosseini

sedentary fragmentation


Mehdi Hosseini is a faculty member at the University of the Arts, Tehran. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1968 and MFA from Pratt Institute of New York in 1970. Hosseini is a permanent member of The Iranian Academy of Arts and an honorary member of Iran Painters Community. He has supervised many graduate students at the Ph.D level. He has shown nationally and internationally. Hosseini has received “Grade 1� degree of excellence in visual arts by the Academy of Arts in Iran.

When I came to the SAIC, I was in the prime of my life, young (only 20), energetic and creative. Chicago and its vicinity – the SAIC in particular – were the ideal place for a person who was thirsty for learning and who wanted to comprehend and experience modernity first-hand. One of the SAIC's characteristics that sets it apart from other art schools is its adjacency to and affiliation with the Art Institute of Chicago. There I was in this worldrenowned museum where I could see and experience the finest examples of modernist works, ranging from the Impressionist paintings of Claude Monet and Edouard Manet, to Paul Cézanne's breathtaking still lifes, to the large, imposing Post-Impressionist canvas of Georges Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Also of particular interest to me was Gauguin's 1890 "Portrait of a Woman in Front of a Still Life by Cézanne," from the Joseph Winterbotham collection, in which Gauguin pays tribute to the great Post-Impressionist painter. And, of course, there was also Gauguin's beautiful masterwork "Day of the God," with its abstract foreground reminiscent of the color abstraction in Persian carpets. In his diaries, he tells us that, if you want to have a profound understanding of color and form, look at Persian carpets. All of these influential masterworks of modernity were highly complementary to my learning at SAIC.


Another impressive aspect of my education was my part-time employment at the bookstore of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the bookshop, I had direct access to information on all aspects of art history through essential texts and the most recent publications on modern and traditional art. It was there that, despite my meager income, I bought Basil Gray's Persian Painting and Arthur Upham Pope's scholarly classics—precious books that I still own and repeatedly refer to in my teaching.

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In addition to these many resources at my disposal were the Art Institute's Ryerson and Burnham libraries, which were of enormous importance to me. And, last but not least, I would like to express my appreciation for the highly professional educators who led the practical and studio classes, gave workshops, and taught theoretical courses, some of which were offered at the University of Chicago's downtown center. In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge and emphasize that I spent the most fruitful years of my life in Chicago and, in particular, at the SAIC (from 1963 to 1968). I will always remember those highly constructive years.

raha raissnia (1968, Iran)

sedentary fragmentation


raha raissnia Raha Raissnia (b.1968 Tehran, Iran) creates complex works which combine painting, film and drawing. Raissnia lives and works in Brooklyn and is represented by Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York, Ab/Anbar Gallery in Tehran, Iran, Galeria Marta Cervera in Madrid, and Galerie Xippas in Paris. In 2016, Raissnia’s film work was the subject of a solo presentation at the Museum of Modern Art (New York). In 2015, her work was included in 56th Venice Biennale curated by Okwui Enwezor. Her film performances and installations in collaboration with various sound artists have been held at The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), Microscope Gallery (Brooklyn), The Drawing Center (New York), Arnolfini – Center for Contemporary Arts (Bristol, UK), Issue Project Room (New York), and Emily Harvey Foundation (New York), among others. Her first museum solo exhibition will open at The Drawing Center in New York in November 2017.


In Greek mythology Mneme is one of the three muses. She is memory personified. Her two sisters are Aoide, muse of song and music, and Melete, muse of study. When I finished making this work, a friend said that it made him think of the way our memory works. The work is made out of pre-existing materials that I cut, painted, and collaged together, making something entirely new. So, after reflecting a bit, I agreed with him that, yes, this is in fact analogous to the way our memory functions. "Mneme 3" puts together bits and pieces from the past and forms new meanings in the present.

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azadeh gholizadeh (1982, Iran)

azadeh gholizadeh

sedentary fragmentation


Azadeh Gholizadeh, is a Chicago-based artist and architect. Born in Tehran, Gholizadeh received her MA in Architecture and her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012. In her current practice she explores tensions and challenges of diaspora. Defining boundaries and blurring the lines that demarks her identity are the subjects that she reflects in her practice. Gholizadeh was a resident at the BOLT Residency Program at Chicago Artists Coalition and the Center Program at Hyde Park Art Center. She has shown in different venues such as Efrain Lopez, Soap Factory and Hyde Park Art Center.


"To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy. In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance. In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession. In order to arrive at what you are not You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance. In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession. In order to arrive at what you are not”

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4 Eliot, T.S., «East Coker,» In Four Quartets, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1968.

When I was asked to write about my feelings on the exhibition, I had two ways to write about how I feel. The path that is full of sorrow, fear and longing and the loss that follows me everywhere, or the path on which I can talk about how I am inspired by my transformation through immigration, where I am not sentimental of displacement and I talk about non-belonging. It's even more interesting to me to think my writing is also between worlds. Where home/land becomes limiting and binds us to our boundaries. Then I remembered that T.S Eliot4 describes it better:

yasamin ghanbari (1984, USA)

yasamin ghanbari

sedentary fragmentation


Yasi Ghanbari is an artist using an interdisciplinary practice living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BA from Oberlin College and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Film, Video, and New Media. Ghanbari has shown her work nationally and internationally at venues such as the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow), NURTUREart (Brooklyn), and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (New York).

(February-April 2017) Written in Pinglish (Persian-English)

Words/Phrases I remember from my Farsi 1 class


Mo'allem | teacher Daneshjoo | student Madar | mother Maman | mother Pedar | father Baba | father Baradar | brother Salam | hello

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Esm-e man Yasi-e | my name is yasi Sefr, Yek, Doh, Seh, Chahar, Panj, Shish, Haft, Hasht, Noh, Dah | 1-10 Az didanet khoshbakhtam | nice to meet you Bale | yes Are | yes/ok Che jaleb! | how interesting! Almani | german Mersi | thank you Kheili mamnoon | thank you very much Moteshakeram | thank you Chand saalete? | how old are you? Man si-o-doh saaleme | i am 32 years old Komak! | help!

nazafarin lotfi (1984, Iran)

sedentary fragmentation


nazafarin lotf i Nazafarin Lotfi is a visual artist based in Chicago. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011 and her BA from the University of Tehran in 2007. Solo exhibitions include: Poiesis at Fernwey Gallery, Chicago; White Light at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago; Love at Last Sight at Brand New Gallery, Milan; Circles at Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago. Recent group exhibitions: This here at Regards Gallery, Chicago; the Particular Poetics of Things at Goldfinch Gallery, Chicago; Resonant Objects, Logan Center Exhibitions, Pattern Recognition, Ana Cristea Gallery, New York. Lotfi was the Artist in Residence at the University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life Program during 2015-16.


Every time I saw the man, he repeated the story of the rock that stood just outside of his hometown. The rock had been there for generations. It was as smooth as glass and so peculiarly shaped that some believed it had been there from ancient times. Some said it used to be part of the old fort; some said aliens brought it there; and some blamed time and weather. When the old man was a little boy, he would play on the rock, pretending it was a horse, riding to the oceans. I never told him about the rotten log in my grandmother's yard. When I was very young, I would ride on it as if it was a galloping horse. We passed through the prairies, the bushes, and the trees; people waved at us, followed us, gave us food and water.

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I imagined places far away, strangers who spoke unintelligible languages, a world filled with mystery. Liberated from gravity, and filled with wonder, I forgot my limits and stretched beyond the horizon. My chest expanded and my mind swelled. The old rotten log has fallen apart but remains filled with possibilities.

elnaz javani (1985, Iran)


elnaz javani

sedentary fragmentation

Elnaz Javani (Iran) is an artist, researcher, and educator. Her studio work consists of sculpture, installation and sound works which take domestic materials as their point of departure into a larger discussion on trauma, memory and violence. Her work is devoted to the micropolitics of everyday life and the ways by which one can uncover the latent narratives within objects, events and collective experiences. Javani holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Tehran Art University of Iran. Her work has been exhibited internationally in USA, Spain, UAE, Germany and Switzerland.

Amongst others, you live in a place called “home,” please, dear reader, never forget “that”, look at “that,” “that” is something else, that's “that,” “that's” that, “home” is an idea shared, please, dear reader, remember “that,” home is a place inhabited by “you,” amongst others.


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maryam hoseini (1988, Iran)

maryam hoseini 34

Maryam Hoseini is an artist currently living and working in New York. Her work explores the subtle relationships between bodies, architectural space, and politics of narrative. She holds an MFA from both the Milton Avery School of the Arts, Bard College and the School of Art Institute of Chicago.

sedentary fragmentation

“Are you not amazed at how she researches all at once the soul the body the ears the tongue the eyes the skin all as if they had departed from her and belong to someone else? And contradictorily in one instant she chills, she burns, is crazy and sensible, for she is in terror or almost dead. So that no single passion is apparent in her but a confluence of passions.� -on Sappho


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sophie loloi (1993, USA)


sophie loloi

sedentary fragmentation

Third culture child raised between Iran, Canada and the United States, Sophie Loloi graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), with a focus in Visual Communication Design and Photography/Video. She is working between the intersections of Image-Making and Design. Her work seeks to bring elegant simplicity to complexity to communicate an idea and experience. She is currently interested in exploring stories of femininity, her culture and language through typographic and visual methods.

“I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea” –Rumi


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Sarah Skaggs, Paul Coffey, Rashayla Marie Brown, Nora Taylor, Annette Gaspers, ​Anita Alkhas, ​Cortney N. Lederer, Zoe Carlson​, ​Ruth Skaggs, Kim Skaggs, M.H Abbasi. Designer: Sophie Loloi​

Heaven Gallery is a non-profit gallery and multi-disciplinary arts space in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood that encourages, mentors, and presents new and emerging artists, musicians, and filmmakers to audiences throughout Chicagoland and beyond. In order to encourage submissions from the widest diversity of artists, regardless of their financial situation, Heaven Gallery widely promotes our open proposal process, and does not charge submission or exhibition fees. All of our programs are open to the public. Heaven strives to make artwork accessible to all community members: our visual art exhibitions are free of charge, and all events are open to audiences on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Show Information Opening Reception Friday, July 14, 2017 7-11pm Artist talk Saturday, July 22, 2017 4:30-6pm Performance by Yasamin Ghanbari Friday, August 4, 2017 6:30-8pm Closing Friday, August 25, 2017

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