CrossConnections

Taraneh Hemami, Visiting Artist
Persis Karim, Visiting Scholar
2005–6

CrossConnections is a yearlong residency project with visiting artist Taraneh Hemami and visiting scholar Persis Karim.

CrossConnections is intended to engage Iranian and Iranian American artists and writers in an intergenerational, creative dialogue about issues of cultural identity, preservation, and representation in a transcultural and transnational context.

This project also explores the diverse local and global influences that contribute to unite or divide cultures and examines the contemporary realities of Iranian Americans in the wake of dramatic shifts in American culture following the tragedy of 9/11.

Presentations

of past and present
Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco
May 2005

of past and present was CrossConnections' first public presentation. It featured multidisciplinary site-specific artwork, as well as a performance and reading by participating writers.

Excerpt from "Baba's Passing" by Persis Karim:

For my Baba, whose place is empty
In the snow-covered streets,

Alleys of Tehran, people

Hail taxis they cannot see.
It's the largest snowfall since 1971

And the 25th anniversary of the revolution.

Read the entire poem here.

rePresent
Oliver Art Center, California College of the Arts, Oakland 
June 2005

rePresent brought together several elements that focused on time, place, and history. The Wall of History, a historical timeline comprising important social and political events, was the conceptual anchor of the installation, utilizing movements and moments as the basis for personal memory and artistic response.

Audience members were invited to participate by adding personal memories, media clips, and objects to the evolving collective portrait of time and place.

The installation was complemented by a layer of personal stories of the Bay Area Iranian community through a new presentation of Hall of Reflections, a collective art project created by Taraneh Hemami.

The Process

Beginning in January 2005, Iranian and Iranian American artists and writers from several different generations, backgrounds, and immigration experiences were selected to participate in the project.

Hemami and Karim met with a core group of emerging artists in workshops that focused on issues affecting their lives and work. The group also began to meet with a second, larger group of recent graduates as well as established artists, writers, and educators.

Throughout the series of workshops, the participants engaged in a creative dialogue reflecting on their past and present experiences, leading to the development of personal, collective, and collaborative projects in the visual, literary, and performing arts.

Taraneh Hemami

Visiting artist Taraneh Hemami is a Bay Area multidisciplinary artist. She received her MFA from the California College of the Arts in painting and drawing with distinction in 1991 and has held solo exhibitions at venues such as the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, The Lab, and SFMOMA Artist's Gallery.

Her installations and paintings have also been exhibited in curated shows: Somewhere Elsewhere, Worth Ryder Gallery at University of California, Berkeley; Sacred Spaces, Berkeley Art Center; Poetics of Proximity, Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University; Re-Counting, Judah Magnus Museum; and Trans/Planting, A Space Gallery, Toronto, as well as part of the Sharjah 6th Biennial in the United Arab Emirates.

Dedicated to expanding the function of art in society, she has developed collective, collaborative, and participatory projects that create spaces for dialogue, encouraging public discourse and exchange through their form and process.

Her project Hall of Reflections: Remembrances of the Bay Area Iranian Diaspora has been awarded a Creative Work Fund grant, a San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grant, and a California Stories Fund through the California Council for the Humanities. Hemami is a recipient of James Irvine Foundation's Vision from the New California award (2003) and has been an artist in residence at Djerassi Resident Artists Program, California Art Council, Montalvo Center for the Arts, and The Lab.

Persis M. Karim

Visiting scholar Persis M. Karim is an assistant professor of English and comparative literature at San Jose State University.

She is coeditor and coauthor of the first anthology of Iranian American literature, A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans (1999) and has written numerous articles on Iranian American art and literature.

She teaches world literature, comparative literature, and creative writing at San Jose State University. She is currently completing a second anthology, Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, which will be published in 2005 and is undertaking a research project on the use of art and literature in the construction of Iranian American identity.

Funding

Support for this project was provided by the Christensen Fund.