Past Projects

Art as Resistance: Photovoice for Connection, Exploration, and Empowerment with Iranian Freedom Fighters

The Woman Life Freedom movement started in September 2022 following the death of Mahsa Jina Amini, becoming a catalyst for a long-awaited fight for human rights and an end to gender apartheid in Iran. These discriminatory, unjust, and violent conditions have taken a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Iranian people. Recognizing the significance of this women-led movement, we embarked on an arts-informed participatory action research project, utilizing a Mindful Arts-Based Photovoice Protocol to shed light on Iranian women’s experiences regarding discrimination, marginalization, censorship, and oppression and the impact of this on their mental health, having both lived in Iran and emigrated to the United States. Collaborating with five women, we jointly developed research questions, aims, endpoints, and topics for weekly art therapy-informed photography prompts aligned with community goals. Photography, collage, drawings, zines, Khatam, and contemporary classical Iranian music with electronics were presented at a Persian rug gallery for the exhibition. Audience members also had the opportunity to create their own art in response to what they saw and heard at the exhibit and place it on a community mural. This fostered community engagement and provided historical, social, and political understanding of what Iranian women are fighting for in the Woman Life Freedom movement. The study’s results aim to inform future research and optimize art therapy and counseling interventions with Iranian women fighting against gendered apartheid and oppression. Overall, through this artistic platform, we sought to amplify Iranian women’s voices and contribute meaningfully to their ongoing quest for freedom and equality. 

Zine from Photovoice Project

Photographs from Photovoice Exhibition

Photovoice Exhibition Wall at Parisa's Rugs & Decor

Photovoice Exhibition Wall at Parisa's Rugs & Decor

Community Mural - Audience's Artistic Response to Photovoice Exhibition

Community Art-Making Table at Photovoice Exhibition

Co-Researcher's Artwork from Photovoice Project

Suffocation of Censorship

"The artwork depicts a woman draped in a chador against a stark black background. The chador envelops her entire head and body, leaving only her hand exposed. This hand, which emerges from the darkness, grasps at the fabric, clutching it tightly, as if struggling to break free even by losing her life. The darkness around her symbolizes the oppressive atmosphere of censorship, suffocating and isolating her from the world. The chador, often associated with traditional dress and modesty, takes on a dual role here, representing both cultural norms and the restrictive nature of censorship. Her exposed hand becomes the focal point, conveying a sense of desperation and a longing for freedom. It struggles against the confines of the chador, seeking to express itself and break through the stifling silence imposed upon her. The image poignantly captures the suffocation and frustration of censorship, where the desire for self-expression is suppressed but not extinguished."


Pressure of Depth

"My experiences of oppression and marginalization have felt like I have been under the pressure of the whole sea while laying on the rocks of cultural and gender discrimination. To compound these factors even more, the government in Iran censored me with a heavy rock on my chest making it hard to breath and making sure I am mute."