A pathway can be something literal, a tangible progression for one place to another, or it can represent something metaphorical. In the latter case, the meaning and signification is the same, a tangible progression from one place to the next, but is focused on the transportation of ideas, histories, cultures, beliefs, faiths, and aesthetics to name a few that are credited to artist Fahimeh Amiri in the soon to open showing of works by her and other artists “Passages and Pathways,” at the Springville Museum. Work by Holdman Studios will be presented to share a vision of the history of the Holdman family, a temporal journey and literal passage way in color, shape, and the transcendence of light as this vehicle. Spectrum Studios use glass, again, using literal and figurative means. The transportation of the passage of light is given representation through fused glass and pattern and design, conveying an immense symbolism of spiritual, and enlightened transcendences of every kind. A third artist is Russel Ricks, whom, through a presentation of plein air works, shows the audience a representation of the passages of his travels, which, while literally indicates the passage of place, metaphorically shows the change of light and color, moment to moment, with a unique blend of the literal and figurative. Amiri is an important artist with an important tradition and personal achievement in her native Tehran, Iran, and has brought her talents to America when she made the passage from Tehran to Boston in 1868, living most of her life in the United States. The evolution of Amiri is a passage from one place to the next, of culture, a passage of artistic progression, of aesthetic progression, and the ongoing of formation and discovery of self.
Asked of what she thinks of her current home in Salt Lake City, Amiri responds, “I love it here, and it brings so much of my native home, very similar to Tehran, where I was born, and left after achieving my diploma in fine arts. I was able to obtain that honor for the first time, as a girl, when previously there had been only boys. I was the first girl to achieve this honor and receive a degree in the Ministry of Fine Arts School, a government school. Once I got my diploma, I moved to Boston for my higher education. I got the scholarship at Boston School of Fine Arts and finished the four year degree in two years.” Interestingly enough, Boston and her new home in America was not enough to westernize her and convert her practice, on the contrary, her work after graduating, was a concerted effort on what she had learned prior to her diploma in Tehran, and as a young girl.
Amiri says, “At the age of seven, I was the only child of the family, and I kept at drawing and my mother took the drawing to a professor, he was the Persian Miniaturist at the time in Iran, and he would not accept any pupils but when he saw my drawing he said, ‘I’ll see her’ so from that age I was under his tutelage.”
These auspicious origins into art making inform the art that Amiri creates today, using color, pattern, subject and symbolism, to create works of art that have their passageway in Amiri’s development and are a passageway from one place to another, literally and figuratively.
Of her time in Boston, Amiri says, “I can really say I really didn’t learn anything at the school. I was actually lost, no structure, and I was coming from a very structured school. All of my learning took place with the intensive program of the Fine Arts School [Tehran] where we had to cover everything from sculpture to graphic design, from old masters, artifacts, textile design, Persian Miniature, everything was in depth.
From this point of departure, and now in the United States, Amiri had a family, a successful career making posters, and moved to Salt Lake City in 1986. Amireh’s career as a fine artist, beyond posters, beyond children’s books, when her passage way from girlhood, to teenage academia, to a sophistication of contemporary Persian Miniatures that are in presentation, authentic to tradition, but utilize a style very much of Amiri’s by new seen with her posters and the children’s books. Both elements, the graphic and the love for children, were a layering to what Amiri was to bring with her to Salt Lake City after returning to Boston for 10 years.
“Drowning Her Sorrows” conveys the reality of deity in womanhood, and be this an actual goddess, or a woman becoming at unison with her goddess power, an evocation of the ancient Persian Miniature is grasped here, and the message of everyday transcendence to a higher reality of the power contained through symbols of deity, are captured in the fragmentary wisps of hair surrounding her crown, the heavenly terrain surrounding her, her magnificently embellished robes with color and fine design, and at her feet, a bird and a rabbit. Perhaps there is something very personal here, for Amiri, or most certainly she is addressing and empowering the Iranian woman, whom, while in tune with her heritage, can find attunement with her higher goddess power and divine self.
A second Miniature that shows Amiri’s love for children is the no less fantastical than “Drowning her Sorrows” yet sublime, and, shows the duality, the balance of all elemental and spiritual natures in the universe, is “Aggression.” The image has a primary focus on a mother who desperately tries to protect her two children, all three on a bright orange Persian rug, from a terrible, awesome force above the broad white cloak she has over the three, protecting them. She has a traditionally Persian nearly connected brow, and has intense eyes as those of early Persian Miniatures. Her eyes read the intense effort she makes and is willing to make to keep all evil at bay. This force, magnificently rendered in curls of blue, with ominous deep orange recessive eyes, seems to be a figurative representation of all evils in the world and the mother trying to shelter the children when young, under the white shroud. It is an image any mother might relate to and is an expression of Persian art that is such a part of Amiri’s passage that can be seen, along with many other of this latter phase, at Springville… magnificent work of many years in the development.
Says Amiri, “At a point, I thought, ‘You can’t come up with the ancient Persian Miniature to the full extent, today, you just can’t do it. As a result, when I returned to Salt Lake for the second time in 2004, I brought a geometric, Islamic quality. I had been stuck, I did not know what to do, no room to grow, and I was puzzled. In the mean time, I had started teaching children, working with children gave me the freedom that I needed, back in Salt Lake City, for 11 years. Children were my love. This was the time to get started with children. After my art, children are the most passionate thing I have in my life. These children, 6-17, always 30- 40 students, 5 classes a year… I can never count.”
The passage that begins in girlhood, to paint Persian Miniatures, honors at the Fine Arts School in Tehran, bringing with her talents and culture, as well as yearning to develop as an artist, to Boston, to study and making graphic posters, to Salt Lake City and painting Persian Miniatures, back to Boston to illustrate children’s books and paint more Persian Miniatures, and back to Salt Lake City to teach innumerable children the art of paining, is the final link of this literal and very figurative passage of place, of self, and transcending place and self with each new turn and obstacle in the journey.
Says Amiri, “The freedom that children use to express themselves influenced and help me break away from the constituants; how a child sees, this was a breakthough for me. This freed me from Persian Miniatures; everything has to be perfect. With children there is no regulation, no limitation