Thursday, February 14, 2013

Parastou Forouhar's "Ornament and Crime"

I am going to do something that is almost completely foreign to me. Write about art. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am the furthest thing from artistic (I like to say I have negative artistic talent). But I do know when something unexpected catches my eye and draws me in. That is the best way I have to describe Parastou Forouhar's exhibit Ornament and Crime currently on display in the Law Warschaw Gallery of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. Forouhar, an Iranian born artist, explores themes of violence, repression, and complicity in her stunningly beautiful, yet often disturbing work. This exhibit comes at a perfect time for me considering last semester I took a course on "Islamic Art" and this semester have continued my studies of violent conflicts.

Many times since the exhibit was put up, I walked by without going in seeing only the balloons and butterflies on the wall. I must admit that in spite of my initial curiosity based on what I had heard was an Iranian artist exploring themes of violence, my sometimes judgmental nature took over based on what I could see from outside the gallery and I resisted going in to check it out.

Luckily for me, my professor for the Anthropology of Violence, Olga Gonzalez, had our entire class go down to the exhibit during class. Upon entering, I immediately realized my mistake. There was so much more to what I had written off as superfluous and I think that was part of the point. So often we ignore the problems in whatever society we live in and refuse to acknowledge the ways in which we contribute to these same issues. By moving beyond appearances, we can begin to recognize problems underlying the beautiful veneer of where we live and perhaps even begin to ameliorate them in our own small way. Either way, it all begins with truly seeing.

The exhibit will be on display from Feb. 8 - March 10.