Drawing from American Hip-Hop and Iranian Culture with Ala Ebtekar

Ala Ebtekar experiments with different art forms and has been inspired by literary narratives since he was very young. He grew up as a graffiti writer and DJ, and later pursued painting studies in Iran. Working with both a Persian miniature painter who created illuminated manuscripts, as well as an Iranian coffee house painter, he was influenced by these distinct styles. Through his work, he hybridizes those inspirations and Persian mythology with his own experiences and contemporary interests in hip hop culture. In this episode of Art School, Ebtekar discusses traditional Persian art forms and his personal history and early influences, such as working with artist Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival (K.O.S), a youth art movement.

Throughout his career, Ebtekar has developed a distinctive voice in the contemporary art world that focuses on unfolding narratives and his interpretations of historical and contemporary cultural iconography. In 2013, he partnered the Asian Art Museum to initiate an ongoing community engagement project, Cylindr.us, inspired by Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, which invites young people to consider their future legacy.

Ala Ebtekar teaches at Stanford University and exhibits his work internationally at galleries and museums.

Funding for KQED Arts is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Support is also provided by the members of KQED.

Author

Kristin Farr

Kristin Farr is the creator and producer of KQED's Emmy Award-winning web video series, Art School, and she is also a contributing editor for Juxtapoz magazine. Her artwork has been exhibited at galleries around the Bay Area including YBCA, Fifty24SF, Anno Domini and The Bedford Gallery. Her FarrOut art app for iOS was released in 2013. She lives in the East Bay and her favorite color is all of them.

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