maryamsafajoo.art

Works

Title: Difficulty of the Journey
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil on canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12"

Being pregnant and traveling for hours with much stress and difficulties in order to visit your innocent mom and sister in prison in another city. My maternal aunt.
Title: Difficulty of the Journey Year: 2021 Medium: Oil on canvas Dimension: 16" X 12" Being pregnant and traveling for hours with much...
Title: Forced abandonment
Year: 2020
Medium: Oil on canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12"

The moment of raid and inspection of my Aunt’s house at night that left my cousin Arash who was four years old alone as they took both his parents to prison.
Title: Forced abandonment Year: 2020 Medium: Oil on canvas Dimension: 16" X 12" The moment of raid and inspection of my Aunt’s house at...
Title: Egregious Oppression
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

Dearest Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, during his 10 year imprisonment, was denied even one day of furlough, even to attend the funeral of his beloved wife. Her funeral drew more than 8000 mourners from all walks of life, most religious backgrounds and all parts of Iran. Mr. Khanjani was freed in 2017 at the age of 85 and was one of the seven national Baha'i leaders wrongfully arrested in 2008 for activities wholly related to their religious belief.
Title: Egregious Oppression Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" Dearest Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, during his 10 year impr...
Title: Three Generations 
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

From the beginning of the Iranian revolution until now, three - my grandmother, mother and sister - have all been prisoners of conscience.
Title: Three Generations Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" From the beginning of the Iranian revolution until now, th...
Title: Awaiting 
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

In memory of all the dear ones who suffered in separation and worry, who were and are waiting outside prison walls for months or years for the freedom of their innocent beloved ones.
My grandpa waiting for the freedom of his nephew, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt and her husband in front of Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, Iran in the summer of 1984 after about two years imprisonment.
Title: Awaiting Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" In memory of all the dear ones who suffered in separation and worry...
Title: Ransacked 1
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil on Canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12"

When you – a woman – are home alone as everyone has left for various reasons. Suddenly government agents ring the doorbell, you don’t know who they are, so you don’t open. Then they shamelessly jump over the door, burst into your home and ransack it, because your thoughts and beliefs differ from theirs.
Title: Ransacked 1 Year: 2021 Medium: Oil on Canvas Dimension: 16" X 12" When you – a woman – are home alone as everyone has left for v...
Title: BIHE
Year: 2014
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 56" X 48"

The right canvas is showing a major crisis that happened in the beginning of the revolution in Iran when Bahá’í professors and students were expelled from the universities. The Bahá’í community did not give up in the face of persecution, with consultation they understood they could overcome this crisis and the idea of creating a university was born. The professors decided to bring what they were teaching in the universities into the houses. In the lower center of the canvas we can see a professor having the idea of BIHE in his hand and bringing it to the classroom while he is falling down a staircase.The Persian carpet and the chairs are representative of teaching in the houses.
Title: BIHE Year: 2014 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 56" X 48" The right canvas is showing a major crisis that happened in the beginnin...
https://www.instagram.com/p/CIRwZffh4-7/Title: The Dream of Freedom 

Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

My cousin Sara, who is a singer, in her daily ten minutes of fresh air during solitary confinement would steal glances through her blindfold at the blue sky above her. She was trying to keep her spirits up through singing and dreaming of freedom and equality. Her bridal accessories boutique was sealed by the Iranian agents.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CIRwZffh4-7/Title: The Dream of Freedom Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" My cousin Sara...
Title: Insulted at School
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil & Mixed Media on Canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12"

When your teacher calls you separately, insults and addresses your belief in school. (My cousin)
Title: Insulted at School Year: 2021 Medium: Oil & Mixed Media on Canvas Dimension: 16" X 12" When your teacher calls you separately, i...
Mural painting for #educationisnotacrime in 2016
Mural painting for #educationisnotacrime in 2016
Title: Ransacked BIHE class room
Year: 2016
Medium: Installation
Title: Ransacked BIHE class room Year: 2016 Medium: Installation
Title: Yaran
Year: 2013
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Dimension: 36" X 48"

This painting shows the former seven member ad hoc leadership group of the Baha’is in Iran known as the Yaran (Friends): Afif Naeimi, Behruz Tavakoli, Jamaledin Khanjani, Saed Rezaei, Mahvash Sabet, Vahid Tizfahm and Fariba Kamalabadi (from left to right). Fariba Kamalabadi on her daughter’s birthday did not give her any gift as she was in prison so she planted one carrot top in a bowl of water. The plant that grew out of the carrot top was then given as a gift to her daughter. The clouds of oppression are swirling around the necks of the Yaran, but the clouds begin to rain victory upon the carrot symbolizing a victory from the crisis of imprisonment.
Title: Yaran Year: 2013 Medium: Acrylic on Canvas Dimension: 36" X 48" This painting shows the former seven member ad hoc leadership gro...
Title: BIHE
Year: 2014
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 56" X 48"

These three canvases speak to the creation of the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in peaceful response to the violent oppression of the Iranian Bahá’í community after the 1979 Cultural Revolution, which banned Bahá’ís from entering into the field of higher education either as students or faculty.
Title: BIHE Year: 2014 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 56" X 48" These three canvases speak to the creation of the Bahá’í Institute of Hi...
Title: Constructive Resilience
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

In memory of the sealing of Baha’i shops all over Iran. Economic apartheid!
Mr. Aghsani, 84 years old is sitting in front of his shop that was sealed by the Iranian authorities still selling what little he has left.
Title: Constructive Resilience Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" In memory of the sealing of Baha’i shops all over Ira...
Title: Forced Immigration
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

When Rouhie, my sister, had to leave Iran permanently during the pandemic when she received her five year prison sentence for her peaceful efforts to gain access to higher education. Bahá’i youth are systematically denied access to higher education in Iran.
Title: Forced Immigration Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" When Rouhie, my sister, had to leave Iran permanently duri...
Title: Louis & Louisa Gregory
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

The marriage of Louis & Louisa Gregory at the encouragement of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá in 1912 during the jim crow era when beautiful people with colored skin were not allowed to sit in the same restaurant with people with white skin.
Title: Louis & Louisa Gregory Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" The marriage of Louis & Louisa Gregory at the encourag...
Yaran on the Waves

The seven members of the Yaran are painted as 7 birds that are in the waves of sea which is the symbol of difficulties but they are dancing in the waves.
Yaran on the Waves The seven members of the Yaran are painted as 7 birds that are in the waves of sea which is the symbol of difficultie...
Title: Poppies of love (شقایق های عشق)
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil on Canvas 
Dimension: 12" X 16"

‎روزگاری زنی از جنس بهار دستهایش را در باغچه کاشت و زنی دیگر از تیره ی نور گوشه ی سلولی کوچک و دور قلب سرخی برداشت، و من اینجا در باغچه ی سلولم قلب خود میکارم و شقایقهای عشق از آن میروید 

Dearest Mahvash Sabet was freed in 2017 from Prison for being one of the seven national Baha’i leaders wrongfully arrested in 2008. Mahvash was selected as the 2017 “International Writer of Courage” by PEN for her poetry written during her unjust incarceration. Her poems also inspired a musical composition by award-winning composer Lasse Thoresen, performed at an international music festival in Oslo.
Title: Poppies of love (شقایق های عشق) Year: 2021 Medium: Oil on Canvas Dimension: 12" X 16" ‎روزگاری زنی از جنس بهار دستهایش را در باغ...
Title: Mitra
Year: 2014
Medium: Acrylic and Oil on Canvas
Dimension: 48" X 48"

This painting is about when my mother, who at the age of 19-21 was in prison, became free and looking at her 11 fellow female prisoners and friends who were executed while they were all in prison together. The birds in this painting are a symbol of innocence and purity. Each bird is representative of the character and virtue which each of the women had. For example, generosity, flexibility, kindness, caring, wisdom. I am showing these virtues through their flight. My mother is looking at this crisis and thinking of their priceless steadfastness.
Title: Mitra Year: 2014 Medium: Acrylic and Oil on Canvas Dimension: 48" X 48" This painting is about when my mother, who at the age of...
Title: Wondrous Courage
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

A few minutes before execution, in the prison yard of Qasr in Tehran on February 28, 1982, General Engineer Hossein Vahdat Hagh, my Mother's Uncle, who had a PhD in electric engineering from Germany, was told to reflect for the last time on whether he would give up his belief in order to get back all of his confiscated property and employment and go free or to have his sentence carried out. After a few moments he started unbuttoning the buttons of his shirt as a welcome to the bullets and said he was ready. He wore the same suit that he was wearing when he had been arrested.
Title: Wondrous Courage Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" A few minutes before execution, in the prison yard of Qasr i...
Title: Love & Blood
Year: 2021
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

In memory of the seven Baha’i Martyrs of Hamedan, Iran on the 13th of June 1981.
Mr. Sohrab Habibi's back and bottom half of his body were burned and the mark of the dagger was visible on his body. Mr. Khazini's chest was broken. Dr. Vafaee's body was torn to pieces and Soheil Habibi's two shoulders, elbow and fingers were broken. There was the mark of the dagger on Dr. Naimi's body and forehead. Hossein Khandel had an empty hole in his abdomen, and 9 bullets were in his heart.
Title: Love & Blood Year: 2021 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" In memory of the seven Baha’i Martyrs of Hamedan, Iran on the 13...
Title: Behnam & Keyvan
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

15 years of imprisonment, including three years of solitary confinement, three mock executions, and 50 uninterrupted lashes by cable to their back. All of this for simply attempting to gain the right of burying the corpses of Baha’is in Karaj, Iran.
Title: Behnam & Keyvan Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" 15 years of imprisonment, including three years of solitary c...
Title: The Separation
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

The painful moment of taking her crying son – who had been born in prison and was devastated by having to be separated from his mother – away, as it was her time for execution. Mrs. Iran Rahimpour was executed in 5/12/1982 in Dezful, Iran via hanging from a crane after months of being in prison.
Title: The Separation Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" The painful moment of taking her crying son – who had been bor...
Title: A Tragedy of Religious Fanaticism
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil on Canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12"

Decades of religious prejudice, government repression, Eradication, Displacement, impoverishment, burning their houses and livestock, destruction of property, driven out with force from their village and their land, Iranian courts confiscate the houses and lands that belonged to the Baha’is for several generations in the village of Ivel. 
#itstheirland #ایول #ivelbahais
Title: A Tragedy of Religious Fanaticism Year: 2021 Medium: Oil on Canvas Dimension: 16" X 12" Decades of religious prejudice, governme...
Title: The Fragrance of Meymand
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil on Canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12"

He, who had recently begun to speak with others about his new belief, at dawn on April 11, 1992 was kidnapped by individuals from his own neighborhood who held religious prejudice. Azim Mousavi has not been heard from since.
Title: The Fragrance of Meymand Year: 2021 Medium: Oil on Canvas Dimension: 16" X 12" He, who had recently begun to speak with others a...
Title: DRC Temple
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

Building of the house of worship while there is conflict in the DRC
Title: DRC Temple Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" Building of the house of worship while there is conflict in the DRC
Title: Destruction of Bahai Cemeteries
Year: 2020
Medium: Oil & Acrylic on Canvas
Dimension: 12" X 16"

Destruction and arson of Baha'i cemeteries all over Iran. This included the looting of the marble headstones to sell by the Iranian authorities. The Baha'is of Iran faced many challenges in burying their dear ones. This story depicts a family that was forced to bury their son under the ceramic tile of their living room as they were not permitted to bury him anywhere.
Title: Destruction of Bahai Cemeteries Year: 2020 Medium: Oil & Acrylic on Canvas Dimension: 12" X 16" Destruction and arson of Baha'i c...
Cemetery of Shiraz

The Bahá’í Cemetery in Shiráz, Iran where hundreds of Baha’is are buried, including Mona and the 10 other women who were executed in the revolution because of their belief recently in April 2014 the government decided to destroy even their dead bodies and their gravestones. Now the stone of their shrines are being used to build some building which is not legal even according to the constitution of Iran. The daffodil is a famous flower in the city of Shiraz and is the symbol of Shiraz and that is why it is on the stone.The candle in the middle of painting refers to the recent documentary that Maziyar Bahari made after this crisis.
Cemetery of Shiraz The Bahá’í Cemetery in Shiráz, Iran where hundreds of Baha’is are buried, including Mona and the 10 other women who w...
Title: Ecstasy of Lovers of His Beauty
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

At dawn on a cold and snowy morning of 12/09/1984, dearest Mr. Haghighi, Athari, Pourostadkar, Farhand and Kashani were unjustly executed in Karaj, Iran. Playing in the snow is a metaphor for their enthusiasm.
Title: Ecstasy of Lovers of His Beauty Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" At dawn on a cold and snowy morning of 12/09/...
Title: Ransacked BIHE class room
Year: 2016
Medium: Installation
Title: Ransacked BIHE class room Year: 2016 Medium: Installation
Title: Raha.Sasan.Haleh
Year: 2015
Medium: Acrylic and Oil on Canvas
Dimension: 20" X 48"

Where does teaching grammar and hygiene to impoverished children constitute a crime? In what land does having permission from the government to run a social and economic development project mean nothing and lead to four years of imprisonment? In their native Iran, Raha, Sasan and Haleh were imprisoned for four years for engaging in a service project. This painting in three canvases symbolizes their imprisonment simply for helping their fellow citizens.
Title: Raha.Sasan.Haleh Year: 2015 Medium: Acrylic and Oil on Canvas Dimension: 20" X 48" Where does teaching grammar and hygiene to imp...
Title: BIHE
Year: 2014
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 56" X 48"

The story continues in the bottom left canvas as we see a western university representing the high ranking universities which accept the degree of the BIHE, allowing graduates to pursue their graduate and PHD studies (moving the chairs from the first canvas to the second). Many of those students who pursued higher education outside of Iran have returned to Iran and have become professors of the BIHE.
Title: BIHE Year: 2014 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 56" X 48" The story continues in the bottom left canvas as we see a western univer...
Title: Melody of Martyrdom
Year: 2015
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 36" X 60"

Shortly after the 1979 revolution in Iran, the mother of my guitar teacher Payam was pregnant with him when Iranian government intelligence agents ransacked their house and arrested his father; he was executed by firing squad shortly after. We can see Payam’s father whispering the melody of his story to his son, who grew up with it told often about his father’s execution. Payam uses these stories for inspiration and plays the guitar with the utmost happiness and spirit wherever he goes, thus responding to the persecution forced upon his family with peace.
Title: Melody of Martyrdom Year: 2015 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 36" X 60" Shortly after the 1979 revolution in Iran, the mother of...
Title: Núk
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

Another aspect of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran is murder by arson. The painting is based on the first chapter of the book “A Cry From the Heart” by William Sears.
Title: Núk Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" Another aspect of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran is murder by ars...
Title: To the point of death 
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

In the basement of Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, 1982, after fifty lashes to my grandmother’s back they turned her over on her back to give fifty lashes on the palms of her feet. They wanted her to tell the names of other Baha’is in Shiraz so they could be arrested and executed. She refused and did not mention any names so that others would not be tested and put in danger. They wrapped her with a Chador so that male prison guards could come in and give the lashes.
Title: To the point of death Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" In the basement of Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, 1982, a...
Title: Two Irans
Year: 2015
Medium: Wood and Acrylic
Dimension: 4’x4’x4’

This sculpture shows the two Irans that exist in the world today. The first Iran is the Iran that is seen by the wider world represented by the top of the sculpture. Light is a symbol of the search for truth, and of exploration. When one looks a little closer at Iran they see that there is a dark side to the country which is represented by the second Iran underneath the first that has been painted black. There are prison bars which surround it that symbolize the imprisonment of innocent individuals simply for having different thoughts than those in power. Cut into the first Iran is the name of God “Allah” which Iran is abusing by saying that what they do is with God’s sanction, however the light of scrutiny and of independent investigation sees through this misuse of the name of God and casts its light upon the persecution of the Baha’is which becomes illuminated in the second Iran.
Title: Two Irans Year: 2015 Medium: Wood and Acrylic Dimension: 4’x4’x4’ This sculpture shows the two Irans that exist in the world toda...
Title: BIHE
Year: 2014
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 56" X 48"

The top left canvas, the third and final canvas in this sequence, is showing that the BIHE is still paying for the right of education and for its development. In 2011, the director of the BIHE (the person in the middle) as well as several professors were arrested and currently are still in prison. They were arrested because they encouraged the students and brought for them the chance of higher education by creating the BIHE. They are pushing the books out of the prison bars, encouraging the system of education. The books are falling upon the yard of a highly respected university implying that their imprisonment is the cause of this victory.
Title: BIHE Year: 2014 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 56" X 48" The top left canvas, the third and final canvas in this sequence, is sho...
Title: Shrine of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

Building the Shrine of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá during the Covid-19 pandemic
Title: Shrine of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" Building the Shrine of ʻAbdu'l-Bahá during the Covid-1...
Title: The Báb
Year: 2013
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Dimension: 36" X 48"

The Báb and Anis were martyred together by three lines of 250 soldiers, represented by the three guns in the bottom left. Their bodies were not safe to be buried in Iran so they were transferred to Israel, where after several decades The Shrine of the Báb was built to house the remains of the Báb and Anis.
Title: The Báb Year: 2013 Medium: Acrylic on Canvas Dimension: 36" X 48" The Báb and Anis were martyred together by three lines of 250 s...
Title: Hateful Graffiti
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

Hateful anti-Baha'i slogans have been painted on Baha'i property in Iran. Depicted here the slogan reads: "Dirty, infidel Baha'i, we will kill you all".
Title: Hateful Graffiti Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" Hateful anti-Baha'i slogans have been painted on Baha'i prop...
Title: The Most Bitter Farewell
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 12" X 16"

On a stressful evening when they called their names for execution on 06/18/1983, nearly 8 months had passed since their imprisonment. Witnessing the loss of your cellmates and friends in a single moment is the most bitter farewell.
Drawn from the perspective of my mother in that moment.
They are dearest Zarrin Moghimi, Mahshid Niroumand, Akhtar Sabet, Mrs. Eshraghi, Shirin Dalvand, Tahereh Arjomandi, Simin Saberi, Mona Mahmoud Nejad, Mrs. Yaldai and Roya Eshraghi.
Title: The Most Bitter Farewell Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 12" X 16" On a stressful evening when they called their names...
Title: The House of the Báb
Year: 2020
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 16" X 12"

The destruction of the house of the Báb in Shiraz at the hands of government authorities in 1979 including his orange tree in the courtyard. Seeds from that tree are planted near the Báb’s shrine in Haifa and descendants of the tree exists all over the world.
Title: The House of the Báb Year: 2020 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 16" X 12" The destruction of the house of the Báb in Shiraz at the...
Title: The Birth of Maku
Year: 2019
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimension: 3’ X 4’

The birth of my first child which was very traumatic and resulted in him being born with an Apgar number of one. He spent six days in the NICU. This was the result of careless attitude of those who were in charge of my son’s birth at Carle Hospital in Urbana Illinois. Misplaced epidural/9 hours fully dilated/absence of midwife nearly the entire time/vacuum birth/42weeks/denial of my experience being abnormal by the hospital/arthritis of the hip as a result for mom/17 hour epidural/ persecution of mothers & children in the west as compared to persecution of mothers & children in the east where Baha’is are both imprisoned with their infants, and separated from their children while serving their sentences.
Title: The Birth of Maku Year: 2019 Medium: Mixed Media Dimension: 3’ X 4’ The birth of my first child which was very traumatic and resu...
Title: Goldane Becomes a Unique Pearl
Year: 2021
Medium: Oil on Canvas 
Dimension: 16" X 12”

On 12/03/1982 In the village of Roshankooh as a result of the ignorance and religious prejudice of the villagers of Sadat Mahale, Goldane – a pure soul who was waiting for her seven year-old grandchild to come home for lunch – was attacked by several men who, not satisfied with her death by suffocation, set her lifeless body ablaze. These flames were fanned by the winds of jealousy and envy. Her humble wooden cottage as well as the pen for her animals, were also set ablaze.
Title: Goldane Becomes a Unique Pearl Year: 2021 Medium: Oil on Canvas Dimension: 16" X 12” On 12/03/1982 In the village of Roshankooh...