Iranian-born painter, installation and conceptual artist Taraneh Hemami has two homes — and she also has none. When Hemami came to the United States in 1978 to attend the University of Oregon at Eugene, she had little idea of what the future held. Within a year of her arrival in this country, the Iranian Revolution had changed her homeland forever and prevented her from visiting for more than a decade.
As an Iranian living in the United States, it’s not surprising that Hemami’s art would explore her complex relationship with the concept of home and her struggle to secure a sense of belonging from both her country of residence and the country and culture of her youth. In many ways, Hemami’s art is her home. “There is a sense of satisfaction in placing myself within the walls that I create,” says Hemami.
Among Hemami’s many projects is an installation she began in 2000 called “Hall of Reflections.” She collected hundreds of personal photographs, portraits and images from Iranian Americans and transposed them onto more than 400 glass and mirror tiles using silkscreen, prints and transparencies that fade and age over time. The resulting multidimensional installation, inspired by traditional Iranian mirrored gathering halls, explores the lives of the individuals fixed on her tiles and their experiences as immigrants, mothers, fathers, children and a community.
Spark follows Hemami as she gathers footage, photographs and stories from a Castro Valley Iranian woman named Nosrat, who is known as “Mommy” and whose life is the cornerstone of Hemami’s multimedia display exploring the layers of history and connected stories within a family home. The finished product is an exhibit she titled “Homes,” which was displayed at ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge and the Thirteenth International Symposium of Electronic Art in August 2006.
Taraneh Hemami’s work has been exhibited in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Artist’s Gallery of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Arts Commission gallery, and numerous other locations around the country and the globe. Her themes revolve around the Iranian American experience, notions of memory and the ephemeral nature of concrete space.
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