Iranian Artist Redesigns UA Gallery For Immersive Experience

Aaron Turner, a research fellow at the UofA, looks at the newest exhibition, “Sentients”, at the UA Fine Arts Center Gallery on Jan. 17, 2020.

Vibrant lights filled the updated UA Fine Arts Center Gallery on Friday as students and community members gathered to view the newest solo art installation “Sentients,” which featured paintings, light displays, costumes and short animations - all the work of one artist.

Laleh Khorramian, 46, was born in Tehran, Iran, and attended the Rhode Island School of Design but transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in 1997. She later went to Columbia University where she earned her Master’s of Fine Arts in 2004. Khorramian lives in upstate New York where she continues to work on her art.

The inspiration for many of her pieces comes from science-fiction, Khorramian said. However, she also finds a lot of inspiration while making her pieces, she said.

“It is a lot about the process, but it is also about the journey,” Khorramian said, “The personal journey, the emotional journey and the psychological journey of making things.”

Khorramian has been using vibrant colored lights recently in galleries to offer a more immersive experience to viewers, she said.

“I like creating worlds,” Khorramian said. “I like ambiance, and I like to help put people in a certain space while they are looking at the work.”

The gallery had to be drastically altered for this exhibit, said Maryam Amireaghefi, assistant director of the Fine Arts Center Gallery.

The gallery was updated to add a screening room and multiple walls to properly display Khorramian’s works.

Khorramian was glad to put together the gallery with the students and meet so many different people, she said.

Amireaghefi tries to expose audiences to new mediums and cultures by having a diverse artists display their works in the gallery, she said.

Amireaghefi said she also thinks that that diverse exhibits help attendees of all races, genders and sexualities develop more personal connections to the art.

Amireaghefi, who is Iranian, said curating the gallery was special because she was able to work so closely with an artist from the Middle East.

“When we choose a student, we think about diversity,” Amireaghefi said. “Because when they see the art, it is like seeing a mirror. To see someone from that community in a big show, it is more moving for them.”

Aaron Turner, UA research fellow, said the lighting of the gallery caught his attention.

“The light, texture and assemblage were a few of the things that really kept me circling the gallery,” Turner said.

Khorramian’s gallery will be on display in the Fine Arts Center Gallery until Jan. 23.

Nathanael Davis is an associate news editor for The Arkansas Traveler. He previously worked as a reporter and photographer.

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