Enlightening #1 (From Unknown Women), 2023

Mixed - Media on Wood Panel

36” x 48”



Enlightening #2 (From Unknown Women), 2023

Mixed - Media on Wood Panel

36" x 36"


Enlightening #3 (From Unknown Women), 2023

Charcoal, Ink, Pen on Arches Printmaking Paper

22” x 30”

I grew up in Tehran, Iran and later moved to the United States following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. My work is an expression of my life’s journey, integrating Persian heritage and 21st century Western experiences. I take great interest in investigating women's historic roles involving works of poetry to amplify contemporary women's voice, power and Identity. I understand the journey toward my present identity as an Iranian-American woman through these concepts: “Separation” from what one has been a part of and “Belonging” to that which is different. “Appearing” then “disappearing” then “reappearing” again. I strive to show the female body as a vessel moving through this journey, taking in new experiences for the mind to process. The intellectual and emotional parts of self are changed through the act of Separation; the changed self belongs both to the past and to the present. Through my work, I intend to deconstruct and reconstruct past and present experiences.

As part of my work, the mystical tension and chromatic energy of Persian miniature painting, along with spiritual creatures, fragmented female body parts, and poetic scripts reflect the challenges I still face while adjusting identity in my new life.

Storytelling and narration have played a significant role in my work for the past two and half decades. As part of my storytelling, I strive to depict a world where women have a strong voice to create positive outcomes within the areas of knowledge, power, subjectivity, and sexuality. My “Enlightening” series are stories of protagonist Iranian women and their feminine energy. The visual depiction of their stories translates to finding a safe and comfortable place for me as a woman.

- Afarin Rahmanifar