Visual artist and curator Taraneh Hemami found herself at a crossroads after moving from Tehran, Iran to the U.S. to attend college nearly 30 years ago.
“After the first decade, I wanted to go home,” Hemami says. “But my dad died by the second decade, and it became clear that I was going to stay.”
At a time when her adoptive home has become rife with Islamophobic rhetoric and polarized views on the Muslim community, Hemami’s decision to stay in the U.S. and create work that facilitates difficult but necessary conversations around those conflicts has become all the more important.
“What really makes Taraneh unique is that she bridges the Iranian and American parts of our identity,” says Torange Yeghiazarian, executive director of Golden Thread Productions, a San Francisco-based performing arts company focused on Middle Eastern work. “Other artists are more traditional or insular, but she’s active and present and brings more visibility to our community.”
While Hemami’s migration to the U.S. strongly informs her body of work, she says a brief visit to Iran in 1990 altered the focus and influences behind her art.
“I was immersed in my culture and I got to visit historic sites that renewed my interest in Islamic architecture and arts,” Hemami says. “At the same time, I was immersed in the family narrative again, and I was inspired by the traditions being handed down by women from each generation.”