Powered by S. Negar Tabibian.

I Do Art.

I am an Iranian-American designer and artist with a strong passion for visual and performing arts. For me, art is a medium to communicate whatever is going on in my bubble with the rest of the world. So in a way, my artworks are the stories of a Middle Eastern immigrant woman residing in the US, trying to be resilient against life's crises.

Depending on where I am standing and what I'm trying to express, I have used a variety of mediums and techniques from watercolor and acrylic painting and photography to singing and dance installation. However, when I look back on decades of recreation of my visions, I notice a strong theme in my works: A woman of a fire; and her never-ending battle to survive mental health struggles, immigration, social injustice challenges, and political pro-activation.

I see my art as a healing tool. Yet an epiphany for me was that the healing effects were not just impacting me alone as a creator, since I have received several comments from audiences who have seen these installations and artworks and connected with them, as they have found themselves seen, validated, and expressed via mediums that are not as challenging as words. I can probably say this connection alone is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my art for me.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram, my Pixels (print-on-demand) webpage, and my blog (in Farsi). You can also download my art-resume pdf.


I

My Dreams for the Poor Unfortunate Soul

Acrylic on 18"x24" Canvas

The canvas in this painting is a portal to a world where the boundaries of reality blur, and where at its heart lies a poignant juxtaposition: a lone girl happily sunbathing while set adrift in her solitude amidst the vast expanse of a desert landscape.

Her presence is both ethereal and resolute, as she navigates the endless traps of cracked land, her vessel becomes a sanctuary, a vessel of dreams in an ocean of imagination.

When I was working on "My Dreams for the Poor Unfortunate Soul" I was hoping to contemplate the fragile dance between reality and illusion and to find comfort in the boundless landscapes of the imagination.

Completed 02.27.2024

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Tahereh Blossoms

Acrylic on 24"x24" Canvas

When I finished this piece, It was 100 days since Iranians rallied behind their women to have their second revolution in a century. It has been 100 days since many were beaten, tortured, killed, and executed and the rest of the country is increasingly frustrated, feared, depressed, and yet encouraged to fight for their freedom.

However, the path of seeking freedom and fighting for human rights in Iran has a long history with a bloody track over centuries. Tahereh (Persian: طاهره, meaning “The Pure One”) Qurrat al’Ayn (1814 or 1817 – August 16–27, 1852) was around my age when executed by her headscarf and drowned for fighting for women’s rights and freedom of religion. You know? 200 years ago... And believe me, she’s still as alive as you and I are...

She was a poet too, and although many of her poems were burned and destroyed, few have survived... This is a verse by her:

محتسب است و شیخ و من، صحبت عشق در میان
از چه کنم مجابشان؟ پخته یکی و خام دو

“Sheikh, the ombudsman, and I are discussing love, but why would I try to convince them? Since I only see one mature and two immature”...

Don’t worry Tehereh! Although our motherland has gone through way too much bloodshed, yet, the Tree of Life is growing stronger than ever. Don’t doubt that we will win the battle with the Zahhak of our time. #WomanLifeFreedom #MahsaAmini

This painting is the largest I’ve worked on up to this date far and although I usually tend to not work on paintings that have expiration dates, yet, I went through a healing process with this one in the past 100 days. Healing that Tahereh and I, as well as many other women throughout history well deserve. Till then and till freedom is reached, Tahereh and many others are alive and blossom on the Tree of Life.


I also usually don’t explain the symbolism behind my paintings and let them be surreal as they are, however, this one might be a bit hard for a non-Iranian to read. Therefore, here is the extra info:


The painting is referring to multiple symbols of our culture and historic literature. It is referring to Zahhak of Shahnameh who in our historic texts was described as a king with snakes grown on his shoulders who was fed from the brains of the country’s youngsters. There’s also an “Alam” behind the brainless Zahhak which historically has been used in front of the Shi’aa Muslim mourners’ queues. On top of the Alam, it is written “In the name of forgiving and kind God” (بسم الله الرًحمن الرًحیم), and at the bottom, it says “The God is with Him [Zahhak]” (الله معه). However, faded back it is engraved “blood” (الدًم) and from the sides, smaller snakes are growing. in front of the brainless Zahhak, there are several wounded hands and hand signs which were also used by Shi’a mourners. The hand signs mainly symbolize the oppression of Imam Hossein and his family and the unjust and brutal murder. Two of the hands are after the traditional signs which say “Never to Humiliation” (هیهات منا الذلًه) and “God is the greatest” (الله اکبر) and another one which says “Woman Life Freedom” (زن زندگی آزادی) in Iran’s flag color.

The bloodstream of wounded hands falls on the motherland (the land hills are shaped as silhouettes of women) and all of them come together to nurture and nourish the Tree of Life (درخت زندگی / درخت طوبی), prevailing the Zahhak.


Presented at the MVA Gallery, Bethlehem PA Dec 6, 2023 - Jan 10, 2024

Completed 12.24.2022

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Drop of Words by Her

Modeling Exercises, December 2015

In 2015, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC held an exhibition of Shirin Neshat's works. The exhibition was called: "Shirin Neshat: Facing History". The works of Iranian artist in exile focuses on the post-1979 revolution and the effects of the Islamic Republic Regime on people, and mostly on women.

However, Shirin has not been back at "home" since 1996, and as strong as her works are, after visiting this collection in person, I felt the need to represent rays of hope by the new generation of Iranian women. Therefore, in this mini collection of modeling and photography, I tried to add another layer of color to Shirin's beautiful black and white works of art.

The picture was taken by Sima Kiani and was edited by myself.

Devour

Acrylic on 11"x14" Canvas

The world can be dark. the world can be polluted. to the point you scream your anger and frustrations. Though sometimes, the same exact screams make an impact and can bring out inner hope.

"Ate it all. It wasn't delicious. Though, you can still find worlds within the worlds."

Completed 08.04.2019

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Path of Calamities

Acrylic, Watercolor, Marker and Pen on 11"x14" Canvas

There are times you rupture your own wing with a dagger of ink, to fly free...

The poem is by Hafez, in the Persian language which reads: "Thousand thanks that I see you again, true, happy, and fulfilled with your desires. And honest with your heart. The travelers of the creed, risk the path of calamities. The one who dares to love is not afraid of ebb and flow"...

Time is the essence of freedom-seeking.

Completed 02.03.2021

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Running Towards the Peace

Solo Dance Performance, Iran Day - March 26, 2011

This solo dance piece was choreographed and performs in midst of the Iran's #GreenMovement.

I was personally going through a very hard period of my life as an Iranian Immigrant in the US and my stories of immigration, cultural shock, and dealing with the secondary traumas of turmoils at home, were reflected in this work.

The performance was done on the recording of "Toccata and Fugue" music, played by Vanessa Mae, accompanied by the Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra. The dance was performed on the UVa Iran Day, celebrating Nowruz 1390. The picture was taken by Marcos Lazzarotto, with minor digital edits by me.

Back to It

Oil Pastel, Acrylic and Metallic Pen on 11"x14" Canvas

It depends on how you look at it: either one shields another, or the storm grows from within the unity.

And I’m wondering who’s protecting whom.

Completed 12.04.2021

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That Goddess of Turmoil

Acrylic on 20"x10" Canvas

Sometimes you wake up and feel you have caused the storms and the entire world's turmoil. But then you look deeper, and you see you're unsettled inside which nourishes the change that the world well deserves.

There are times in an immigrant woman's life that feel like disturbance and achievement, exhaustion and success, giving and getting. When you're standing tall, yet, alone. And care, yet create turmoil.


Presented artwork at the Exhibizone Virtual Exhibition “WOMAN”, March-April 2023

Completed 07.04 .2022

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Dare

Acrylic on 12"x12" Canvas

There are times I feel the need to get naked and dive into the ocean of feelings I'm dealing with. And only when doing so, I finally can see that I'm not alone and there's hope to move forward. That's the only time that I can see myself turning into a force of fire.

When it comes to feelings, there have been many times I was struggling to communicate with words. But painting has done it for me and not only connects me with the rest of the world, but I have also observed that many others could use the tools I have created to communicate their unspoken words as well.

This particular baggage was left from my 2021 birthday... yup! I swam it away...

Completed 02.16.2021

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Flames Behind the Christmas Eve

Oil Pastel, Acrylic And Metallic Pen on 12"x12" Canvas

Sometimes a toxic relationship becomes so hot that it burns under a firestorm. You can also say sometimes a healthy relationship becomes your best support system that even though you're burning from inside and out, you feel you're in your safe haven.

So yeah, if anything, you can say that relationships are complicated.

This painting was also my first experiment with using crumpled foil rather than a brush to create strokes of cruel yet shiny and colorful raindrops on canvas...

Completed 12.24.2021

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Riot 2 - Uproar

Chalk Pastel and Metallic Pen on Black 16"x20" Canvas

Love can be the force of life to speed forward, so the unpredictable dive into the unknowns of companionships have been the inspiration for this painting. The strokes of the chalks and later flashy metallic ink of pen drawing on top of the black canvas made me feel like bringing the light into the darkness.

This piece was my first experience with chalk pastel on a large canvas and how I felt on the first day of 2021: Let there be happier days for all of us.

Completed 01.01.2021

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Prolapse

Acrylic on 18"x24" Canvas

Once upon a time, an immigrant was living between two exquisite worlds. Never belonged, never detached. So she fell. In the most alluring abyss...

The sketch was started a bit before Iran Protests in Aban 1398 (Bloody Aban - November 2019) and was finished right after the disastrous destruction of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

This was and is one of the most personal and most painful paintings I've ever done so far... Initially, I wanted to call it "Parisa" after Hamed Esmaeilion's wife who was killed in the aircraft shutdown. But then I felt as much as this painting connects me to her, it also connects me to all the lost immigrant souls in the past months and years... So here it is: Prolapse...

Completed 02.25.2020

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Nowruz 2013 Band Performance

Vocal Performance at UIUC Nowruz Celebration, March 9, 2013

Persian New Year is called Nowruz and communities all over the world celebrate it by series of performances and rituals. Since I moved to the US, I have always tried to share my art with the Persian community, via vocal singing or dance performances.

During my study time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was a member of a multicultural local band (Greek, Arab, Turkish, Persian, and American) and we performed at multiple events such as Nowruz Celebrations at UIUC in March 2013. In this event, I was the primary vocalist for multiple Persian and Greek songs.

The set list was a repertoire of these pieces: Marghoudi (Arabic), Grigri (Arabic), Milo Mou Kai Mandarini (Greek), Apo tin Athina/Uskudara (Greek Instrumental), Bekledim de Gelmedin (Greek), Sari gelin (Azeri), Jane Maryam (Persian), Gol e Pamchal (Persian), Gole Zard (Persian), Sar Omad Zemeston (Persian).

The picture was taken by Stephanie Lee, with minor digital edits by me.

Circling Forward

Watercolor and Acrylic on 20"x10" Canvas

When the black and brown women circle around.

And yes, there's always an eye on them.

Completed 04.06.2021

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Deserted Holiness

Graphic Art

On January 23, 2024 they executed "Mohammad Ghobadlou" in the name of God. And Palestinians are getting killed in the name of God... And Rohingya Muslims are under genocide in the name of God... And Afghans, Syrians, Persians, Saudis, Yemenis, and others in the Middle East are living under the terror in the name of God... And Kashmiris pay the price of their livelihood in the name of holy "conflict"... And Chinese Uyghurs are being "sterilized" in the name of holiness... And Sudanese are in crisis in the name of holy power... and the Ukrainians are under attack in the name of holy land...

Completed Midnight of 01.24.2024

Modeling Higher than Darker by Brad Johnson

Higher than Darker

Modeling Exercises, October 2014

In 2014, I joined Brad Johnson in Urbana, IL for a mutual photography project. The theme was to remember that the world is sometimes muddy, and sometimes washed off.

The picture was taken by Brad Johnson and has some minor edits by myself.

Painting Fragile Masquerade by Negar T

Fragile Masquerade

Watercolor on 20"x10" Paper

Layer by layer, you build a mask and it becomes your fragile identity. Or does it?

Completed 06.15.2021

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Modeling High Above by Ali Rad

High Above

Modeling Exercises, January 2018

Throughout 2017-2018, I collaborated with Ali Rad on several photography projects. The High Above series was captured at the Hirshhorn Museum "At Hand" exhibition by Ann Hamilton.

"Ann Hamilton creates site-specific multimedia installations that are simultaneously immersive and ephemeral. Combining the sounds of mechanization with the motorized release of sheets of translucent white paper, which gently descend from the ceiling, at hand speaks to the decline of manual labor in the wake of technological innovation. Though the paper accrues on the gallery floor in a sculptural “drift,” the effect of the installation remains one of loss and absence; the paper is blank, the movement is random, and the hand of the artist remains invisible."

My modeling exercise at this exhibition was influenced by these verses From “Elegy for My Father”, by Mark Strand:

You sat in your room and stared at the city
And went on with your dying.

I felt we were living in a world where everything was upside down in a white silence. And nothing could stop us...

Displaced Tango

Group Dance Performance, March 9, 2013

This group dance performance was choreographed by me and performed by six UIUC undergrad students, all immigrants on the piece "Tango", by Mohsen Namjoo.

The artwork follows the narrative of six immigrants, dancing with struggles of displacement.

The photo was taken by Stephanie Lee.

Endless Wandering

Fine Art Photo Modeling, July 2018

One of the works from a duo photo road trip of Fahim Attar and me in the summer of 2018. Fahim took several portraits and urban photos, did the editing, and posted some of them on his social media. I borrowed this one from him, which he added a caption to it in Farsi and this is a section of it:

"...Then I told myself that it's good that I have a small family. It makes me miss fewer people. It feels as if the misery of having nobody, is more tolerable of missing your loved ones... This was my opinion after the coffee..."

«... بعد هم توی دلم گفتم خدا رو شکر که خانواده‌ی جمع و جور و کوچیکی دارم. دلم برای آدم‌های محدودتری تنگ می‌شه. کلا به نظر می‌آد درد بی‌کسی قابل تحمل‌تر از درد دوری از کس و کار باید باشه. این‌ نظر بعد از قهوه بود.»

Without You, Middle East is an Empty Oil-Well

Acrylic on 12"x16" Canvas

There are moments when you suffocate and get cracked by your own doing.

My paintings are getting darker and darker... As Iran is going through the revolution deeper and deeper.


Presented artwork at the HMVC Gallery Virtual Exhibition “Woman”, March 2023

Completed 12.01.2023

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Self portrait and graphic art Strings of Hijab by Negar T

Strings of Hijab

Photo Art Exercises, April 2014

The hijab became mandatory in Iran in 1983 after the Islamic government was established following the 1979 revolution. The hijab mandate requires women to cover their hair, except for their face and hands, with a headscarf, long pants, and a long, loose cardigan. In some extreme measures, some women only allow one of their eyes and possibly a nose to be not covered.

The compulsory hijab has become a tool to torture, restrict, and make women secondhand citizens. In this artwork, I turned my hair strands into a covering tool... as they are limiting my sight as well as frightening me, I reflect and outnumber my dreadful apprehensions.

The picture was based on a self-portrait and was digitally manipulated by me.

Self portrait and graphic art Darkness of Veil by Negar T

Darkness of Veil

Graphic Art, April 2014

There's a small town in my mind...
With big BIG big black sky...
And I cannot leave without hurting everyone who has made me...

The hijab became mandatory in Iran in 1983 after the Islamic government was established following the 1979 revolution. The hijab mandate requires women to cover their hair, except for their face and hands, with a headscarf, long pants, and a long, loose cardigan.

The compulsory hijab has become a tool to torture, restrict, and make women secondhand citizens. In this artwork, I turned a photo of a sunflower field that I initially took in Iran on 9.7.2007 to a dead land as if a compulsory hijab is showering over it.

Rise Up

Watercolor And Ink on 9"x12" Paper

This painting was done four months after the other one I did, "Dare" in February of 2021. On that one, I dared myself to jump into the sea of emotions. One would say that four months later, I could see myself drowned in emotions, yet hopeful to rise up.

The women in my paintings (as well as me - hopefully) are resilient and courageous to rise up.


Presented at the Gallerium Virtual Exhibition “Femina”, March-April 2023

Completed 06.07.2021

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Modeling and Photo Edit Blind Unjustice

Blind Unjustice

Modeling and Photo Edit Exercises, March 2014

To Be Blind in Red, at Museum.

The picture was taken by Pratik Lahiri at the Art Institute of Chicago and was edited by myself.

Painting Hands of the Family by Negar T

Hands of the Family

Watercolor and Ink on 9"x12" Paper

I love my blues. They are my family.

Completed 06.11.2021

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Modeling and Photo Edit Tehrand and I

Blind Unjustice

Modeling and Photo Edit Exercises, Febryary 2015

پروازها کرده‌ام تا به امروز...
گیسوها به باد داده‌ام...
امروز اما،
بال پرواز را دارم،
تو را ندارم....

خسته از نادانی فرزانگی....

I miss my home,
I miss Tehran,
My hometown who is blind to me, and I am blind to her.

I miss my home,
I miss Tehran,
The original image “Tehran” is by Arash R. Karimi, 2009 and I did the photo montage and graphic edits in 2015.

Painting End of An Era by Negar T

End of An Era

Acrylic on 16"x20" Black Canvas

We all dance the scars of intimacy through the day and night, dark and light, under the sun or moon. Like a habit. It can be very joyful or extremely painful. Like a ritual. Under the shadow of a fresh toxic wound or in the face of an old chronic infection. Like a custom. We dance and swing beautifully. Like and act. And we trust each other. become vulnerable. Every morning. Every Noon. And every night.


I have lots to say about this piece, but none can come into words. I was not hurt when I painted it. I was hurt when I finished it, though. The scars were old when I started but became bloody fresh when done.

One thing, though: this was the first painting I’ve done after moving to the very first house I bought: A painful liberation. I would do it again and again.

Completed 06.23.2022

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Painting Resurrection, in days of pain and hope by Negar T

Resurrection, in Days of Pain and Hope

Watercolor on 11"x14" Canvas

This too shall pass,

این نیز بگذرد٬ به وقت رستاخیز...
که برای هر چیز زمانیست و مکانی...

There is a time for everything,
a time to be born and time to die,
a time to kill and a time to heal

Completed 02.12.2022

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Painting Built on the Wind by Negar T

Built on the Wind

Watercolor on two 9"x12" papers

A set of two paintings, reflecting on womanhood, strength, and fragility, all in one body. Almost like a dandelion.


Or as Mehdi Akhavan Sales brings it to the words:

«... انتظار خبری نیست مرا،
I'm not expecting any news,

نه ز ياري نه ز ديّاري ، باري،
not from a friend or beloved, not from the homeland,

برو آنجا که بود چشمي و گوشي با کس،
Go where there is an awaiting eye and an ear,

برو آنجا که ترا منتظرند.
Go where you're expected.

قاصدک!
Dandelion,

در دل من همه کورند و کرند.
In my heart, everyone is deaf and blind.

دست بردار از اين در وطن خويش غريب.
Leave where even in your homeland you're mere a strenger.

قاصدک تجربه هاي همه تلخ،
Dandelion, all these better experiences

با دلم مي گويد
Tell my heart

که دروغي تو، دروغ
That you're a lie, a lie.

که فريبي تو، فريب.
That you're a deception, a deceit.

قاصدک! هان، ولي ...
Oh Dandelion, yet,

راستي آيا رفتي با باد؟
Did you depart with the wind?

با توام، آي کجا رفتي؟ آي...!»
I'm talking with you, where did you go?


Completed 01.13.2022

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Self Portrait and Photo Edit The Mute Girl Talks

The Mute Girl Talks

Modeling and Photo Edit, September 2014

Modeling, dancing, and musing on poems, songs, and confusions of life.

"The mute girl talks:
It is art's imperfection.
This impenetrable speech."
By Haiku by Paul Éluard

«هيچ مردي نمي خواهد
عاشق زني شود
كه در سيرك كار مي كند

از آن زن‌ها كه بايد روي طناب راه بروند

عاشق زني شود
كه هر لحظه ممكن است سقوط كند
و اگر سقوط نكند
هزارها نفر برايش
كف مي زنند»
از مجموعه «کار تمام وقت»
سارا موحدی اردهالی

Painting Lost Her to Mirrors by Negar T

Lost Her to Mirrors

Watercolor on 11"x15" paper

Self-reflections can be overwhelming... like a painful web of darkness.

Completed 09.25.2023

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Fine Art Photography The Gap

The Gap

Fine Art Photography, July 2013

This artwork is part of the larger project I was working on entitled "On the Ground". Taken 7.18.2013 at Parc André Citroen, Paris, France.

Honored as Spotlight by Aminus3 Group.

Painting Distant by Negar T

Distant

Acrylic and Watercolor on three 9"x12" Canvases

This is a 3-panel mixed media work which the narrative behind it is hard for me to bring into words...

In the era of the #MeToo movement, I am trying to express that some horrors look absolutely beautiful in the public eye, but we would never know the reality behind closed doors...

Completed 04.23.2021

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Blood in the Water

Watercolor And Color Pencil On 9"x12" Canvas

Even on top of the bluest cliffs, there's hope. And the fire of the wind.

Completed 01.26.2021

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