Azad means liberation in Indo-Iranian languages like Persian, Kurdish, Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi. It is also used in Armenian.
Words are containers for emotion. I experiment with them visually—letters become shapes and lose their meaning. As an immigrant in this country I know how it feels to be excluded and isolated from public dialogue and spaces. I want my art to speak to many people; English readers, Farsi readers and those who cannot read. Experiencing the work is enough. I make this work thinking about my parents and my own early experiences of arriving to a new country. I want to offer tactile experiences for those who are left out of a dominant language and culture.
My themes of love and longing are based in Persian poetry, mantras of compassion are based in Buddhist philosophy and my screenprinting approach is a shout out to Sister Mary Corita Kent.
War On Terror
I explore a war without a physical enemy—a war where the enemy is a psychological state of fear. This work began after 9/11/2001. I began clipping pictures from popular newspapers and collecting them. I saw landscapes and people who looked familiar to me. I saw countless soldiers so heavily armed you could not make out their individual characteristics. I understood that this imagery was produced to instill fear and hatred in an imagined “American people” so that bombing other countries would be an acceptable retaliation. As an Afghan-American I don’t see it this way. My family escaped war in Afghanistan. We came here as refugees in 1984 to build a new life. I feared that my native country would be bombed and more innocent people would be killed.
In this work I interpret the popular media images through my lens and show the plurality of American people and experience.
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