maryamsafajoo.art

Maryam Safajoo

Artist Statement:

My name is Maryam Safajoo a Tufts University alumni. I’m a Persian-American painter based in Illinois and graduated with an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston in 2016. My paintings narrate the stories of the contemporary situation of the systematically persecuted Iranian Baha’i community – Iran’s largest religious minority – after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

I experienced this oppression myself in Iran. I remember the day in the early morning when government security forces burst into my home, ransacked it and took my father to prison; my younger sister was crying on her way to school. Later my sister was denied access to university and because of her quest to understand why, was placed in solitary confinement. These are only a few examples of what Baha’is around Iran have and are currently experiencing. 

My paintings narrate these stories which are a result of my conversations with the people who were near these actual events. Many of the incidents I depict only exist in the memory of those who experienced them and have no pictorial existence. In many cases if visual records did exist, they have been confiscated by the Iranian authorities in raids of homes. My depictions are often the first time these events have taken visual form. I record the details of this history. For example, the shoes, clothes, artifacts, and environments seen in my paintings are very close to those that were there in the event.  
 
 I take inspiration from interviewing, hearing, feeling, reading, and researching the stories of the Bahai’s of Iran. 
 
 My paintings tell the stories of this systematic persecution— including execution or murder, arrest, detainment, and interrogation. Tens of thousands more have been deprived of jobs, pensions and educational opportunities – including a systematic denial of access to higher education. The Bahá’í community’s holy places, cemeteries, and properties have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed, and many Bahá’ís have had their homes and other property seized or damaged etc. Throughout my work, I am constantly reflecting on the concept of a humanity free from religious prejudice including how we can eliminate all prejudice such as racism, sexism, nationalism, and how our prejudices can complicate or obfuscate the development of our community and prevent each other from growing. I often use my own body and those of my friends and family in my paintings. I’m working on this subject since 2013.

Some of my paintings depict the stories of the persecution of my immediate and extended family. I primarily work with oil on canvas and when necessary, I use mixed media to maintain historical accuracy. I work on small canvases and the details are often miniature in scale. Each of my paintings are thoroughly researched, are inspired by actual events, and show the beautiful aspects of those who have been persecuted by highlighting their steadfastness, powerful spirit, and love for humanity.


Bio:

Maryam’s paintings are based on qualitative research with those who are familiar with the situation she depicts; they are a combination of research and art.
Maryam was not able to study her BFA in Iran because of the danger of being kicked out of the public university she was surprisingly allowed to enter. She chose business administration, a program that also existed at the BIHE (the University that the Bahá’í Professors who were kicked out of the University made) so if she were kicked out, she could continue her studies at the BIHE. When she moved to the United States, she applied for an MFA program and was accepted by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, MA. She works on heavily emotional subjects in each painting. 
Maryam has exhibited her work at venues including Harvard University, the Massachusetts State House and presented at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her remarks at the AJC Boston Diplomats Seder in 2016 was adapted by Boston Herald into an article. Her work has recently been featured by IranWire, Tavaana, PersianBMS, Radio Farda, Nashraasoo and BBC.

CV:

Maryam Safajoo
www.maryamsafajoo.art

Education
2016	
MFA, Painting, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2011	
BA, Business Administration, Industries Research and Training Center of Iran, Qazvin, Iran
Graduation Certificate in Graphics, Jahad Daneshgahi Higher Educational Institute, Tehran, Iran

Press

2021		

BBC video Interview (forthcoming)
Radio Farda Interview
Nashraasoo
Sharks eat meat review
Art Seen Magazine
Tavaana
Persian BMS Khabarnegar

 2020		

Radio Farda Picture of the day
Persian BMS
Persian BMS Teaser
Iran Press Watch	 
Iran Wire	
 
2016
		
Boston Herald	
Artist at War
VOA (Voice of America)
El Mundo
Iran Wire
Center for Human Rights in Iran	 

2015		

Nineteen Months

Selected Group Exhibitions

2022-2023
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (forth coming)

2022
Atelier Montez, Rome, Italy (forth coming)
Kiechel Fine Art, Lincoln, NE (forth coming)

2021
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Champion of Justice, Promoter of Unity, Exemplar of Service, Green Acre A Baha’i Center of Learning, Eliot, ME 

2016
MFA Thesis Exhibition, Cyclorama, Boston, MA

2015     
Violence Transformed, The Resnikoff Gallery, Roxbury Community College, Boston, MA
Body of work, Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA
Students Curate Students, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
 First Year MFA Exhibition, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
SMFA Medici and MFA Museum Council Mission Hill Open Studios, Boston, MA

2014	
Art Sale, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
New Student Show, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2021
Bahai House of worship, Wilmette, Il
2015    
 Education is Not a Crime Campaign, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 
2014	
Crisis and Victory, Open House Gallery, Cambridge, MA
2013	
Crisis and Victory, Open House Gallery, Pune, India 
2010	
Ceramics Exhibition, Alborz Ceramic Company, Tehran, Iran

Awards/Fellowships/Residencies

2021	Finalist Prisma art prize 2021
2016	 The Romero Award, MA
2014	MFA Scholarship, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Professional Experience

2021
Teaching online private class on Portrait and Figures (5 students)
Teaching online private class on Foundational of Virtual Art (10 students)
2016
Teacher assistant of Charles Goss (The Bridge DRW 1002 01)
2015 
Graduate Teacher Assistant of Magdalena Campos-Pons (Painting & Drawing Practicum)  
2015		
Scholastic Program, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA 
2014-15	
Sales Associate, Goya Exhibition Shop, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA	
2014		
Assisting Art Installation, The Drawing Center, New York City, NY
2012		
Graphic Designer, Bahá’í Academy, Panchgani, India 
2011		
Graphic Designer, The Gardener of Art Studio, Tehran, Iran
2010-11               
Accountant, Rafooneh Company, Tehran, Iran
2010                     
Assistant Planning Manager, Rafooneh Company, Tehran, Iran

Artist Statement:

My name is Maryam Safajoo a Tufts University alumni. I’m a Persian-American painter based in Illinois and graduated with an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston in 2016. My paintings narrate the stories of the contemporary situation of the systematically persecuted Iranian Baha’i community – Iran’s largest religious minority – after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

I experienced this oppression myself in Iran. I remember the day in the early morning when government security forces burst into my home, ransacked it and took my father to prison; my younger sister was crying on her way to school. Later my sister was denied access to university and because of her quest to understand why, was placed in solitary confinement. These are only a few examples of what Baha’is around Iran have and are currently experiencing.

My paintings narrate these stories which are a result of my conversations with the people who were near these actual events. Many of the incidents I depict only exist in the memory of those who experienced them and have no pictorial existence. In many cases if visual records did exist, they have been confiscated by the Iranian authorities in raids of homes. My depictions are often the first time these events have taken visual form. I record the details of this history. For example, the shoes, clothes, artifacts, and environments seen in my paintings are very close to those that were there in the event.

I take inspiration from interviewing, hearing, feeling, reading, and researching the stories of the Bahai’s of Iran.

My paintings tell the stories of this systematic persecution— including execution or murder, arrest, detainment, and interrogation. Tens of thousands more have been deprived of jobs, pensions and educational opportunities – including a systematic denial of access to higher education. The Bahá’í community’s holy places, cemeteries, and properties have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed, and many Bahá’ís have had their homes and other property seized or damaged etc. Throughout my work, I am constantly reflecting on the concept of a humanity free from religious prejudice including how we can eliminate all prejudice such as racism, sexism, nationalism, and how our prejudices can complicate or obfuscate the development of our community and prevent each other from growing. I often use my own body and those of my friends and family in my paintings. I’m working on this subject since 2013.

Some of my paintings depict the stories of the persecution of my immediate and extended family. I primarily work with oil on canvas and when necessary, I use mixed media to maintain historical accuracy. I work on small canvases and the details are often miniature in scale. Each of my paintings are thoroughly researched, are inspired by actual events, and show the beautiful aspects of those who have been persecuted by highlighting their steadfastness, powerful spirit, and love for humanity.


Bio:

Maryam’s paintings are based on qualitative research with those who are familiar with the situation she depicts; they are a combination of research and art.
Maryam was not able to study her BFA in Iran because of the danger of being kicked out of the public university she was surprisingly allowed to enter. She chose business administration, a program that also existed at the BIHE (the University that the Bahá’í Professors who were kicked out of the University made) so if she were kicked out, she could continue her studies at the BIHE. When she moved to the United States, she applied for an MFA program and was accepted by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, MA. She works on heavily emotional subjects in each painting.
Maryam has exhibited her work at venues including Harvard University, the Massachusetts State House and presented at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her remarks at the AJC Boston Diplomats Seder in 2016 was adapted by Boston Herald into an article. Her work has recently been featured by IranWire, Tavaana, PersianBMS, Radio Farda, Nashraasoo and BBC.

CV:

Maryam Safajoo
www.maryamsafajoo.art

Education
2016
MFA, Painting, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2011
BA, Business Administration, Industries Research and Training Center of Iran, Qazvin, Iran
Graduation Certificate in Graphics, Jahad Daneshgahi Higher Educational Institute, Tehran, Iran

Press

2021

BBC video Interview (forthcoming)
Radio Farda Interview
Nashraasoo
Sharks eat meat review
Art Seen Magazine
Tavaana
Persian BMS Khabarnegar

2020

Radio Farda Picture of the day
Persian BMS
Persian BMS Teaser
Iran Press Watch
Iran Wire

2016

Boston Herald
Artist at War
VOA (Voice of America)
El Mundo
Iran Wire
Center for Human Rights in Iran

2015

Nineteen Months

Selected Group Exhibitions

2022-2023
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (forth coming)

2022
Atelier Montez, Rome, Italy (forth coming)
Kiechel Fine Art, Lincoln, NE (forth coming)

2021
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Champion of Justice, Promoter of Unity, Exemplar of Service, Green Acre A Baha’i Center of Learning, Eliot, ME

2016
MFA Thesis Exhibition, Cyclorama, Boston, MA

2015
Violence Transformed, The Resnikoff Gallery, Roxbury Community College, Boston, MA
Body of work, Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA
Students Curate Students, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
First Year MFA Exhibition, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
SMFA Medici and MFA Museum Council Mission Hill Open Studios, Boston, MA

2014
Art Sale, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
New Student Show, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2021
Bahai House of worship, Wilmette, Il
2015
Education is Not a Crime Campaign, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
2014
Crisis and Victory, Open House Gallery, Cambridge, MA
2013
Crisis and Victory, Open House Gallery, Pune, India
2010
Ceramics Exhibition, Alborz Ceramic Company, Tehran, Iran

Awards/Fellowships/Residencies

2021 Finalist Prisma art prize 2021
2016 The Romero Award, MA
2014 MFA Scholarship, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Professional Experience

2021
Teaching online private class on Portrait and Figures (5 students)
Teaching online private class on Foundational of Virtual Art (10 students)
2016
Teacher assistant of Charles Goss (The Bridge DRW 1002 01)
2015
Graduate Teacher Assistant of Magdalena Campos-Pons (Painting & Drawing Practicum)
2015
Scholastic Program, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2014-15
Sales Associate, Goya Exhibition Shop, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2014
Assisting Art Installation, The Drawing Center, New York City, NY
2012
Graphic Designer, Bahá’í Academy, Panchgani, India
2011
Graphic Designer, The Gardener of Art Studio, Tehran, Iran
2010-11
Accountant, Rafooneh Company, Tehran, Iran
2010
Assistant Planning Manager, Rafooneh Company, Tehran, Iran