maryamsafajoo.art

Maryam Safajoo

Artist Statement:

My name is Maryam Safajoo a Tufts University alumni. I’m a Persian-American painter based in the United States 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 and interviews with the people who were near or in 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. 

Many of my paintings depict the stories of the persecution of my immediate and extended family, the stories that I grew up with in my childhood. As a child I often accompanied my family to visit the homes of the Baha’is in Iran who had lost members of their family due to this persecution. My mother herself was in prison for about 2 years and nearly all her friends she was imprisoned with were executed for being Baha’i. We would often visit the families of her cellmates and I would hear first-hand the stories of these brave individuals from their closest relatives. While growing up my home was filled with the various stories of the persecution of the Baha’is around Iran and were woven into the fabric of my everyday life. These experiences in my formative years had a very influential effect on me and lay at the heart of my current artistic practice.

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. Bahá’í 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 prejudice; that is how we can eliminate our prejudices against any people on the basis of color, nationality, gender or identity, economic or educational status etc. As we know, these prejudices can complicate the development of our community and prevent us from growing together, from building a better world. I pose and also ask who individuals familiar with the events to pose and dress as the figures in my paintings. I have been working on this subject since 2013.
I primarily work with oil on Linen and when necessary, in the past, I have used 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 the 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

Selected Collections 
Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton, OH
Hassan Movahhed, San Francisco, CA
Ali Ahmadi, Fair Oaks, CA
Kenneth Kamugisha, MA
Eman Namati, Arlington, MA
Molly Herman, Wayne, NE
Diane Herman, Curtis, NE
Joan and Al Lincoln, Boston, MA
Sara Afshar, MA
David Weigert, Malden, MA
Saghi Saadi, MA
Tim Ritchie, Harwichport, MA
Joanna Bertsekas, Belmont, MA

Press
2022               Yahoo! News
2022               Albany Herald
2022               Albany Museum of Art
2022               The International Peace Museum 
2022               Fox 31 WFXL
2022               Downtown Dayton 
2022               WDTN News
2022               The Oakwood Register
2022               BBC piece of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, featuring my paintings
2022               Voice of America feature of the painting “Well”
2022               Radio Farda feature of the painting “Well”
2022               Radio Farda Artist New Year greeting 
2021		BBC Video Feature on my art
2021		BBC Video Featuring my painting “Lover’s Migration”
2021	       	Radio Farda Interview
2021		Nashraasoo
2021		Sharks eat meat review
2021		Art Seen Magazine
2021		Tavaana
2021		Persian BMS Khabarnegar
2020		Radio Farda Picture of the day
2020		Persian BMS
2020		Persian BMS Teaser
2020		Iran Press Watch
2020		Iran Wire
2016		Boston Herald	
2016		Artist at War
2016		VOA (Voice of America)
2016		El Mundo
2016		Iran Wire
2016		Center for Human Rights in Iran	 
2015		Nineteen Months

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2024	Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL (forthcoming)
2023	A Cry From the Heart, Crary Art Gallery, a Nonprofit Art Museum, Warren, PA (forthcoming) April, 1st – 30th 
2022	Albany Museum of Art, GA (forthcoming) Oct 6th – January 31st 
2022	A Cry From the Heart, Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton, OH August 19th – September 24th 
2022	ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL July 21st – August 13th 
2021	Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette, IL
2015	“To Light A Candle” film screening, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 
2010	Ceramics Exhibition, Alborz Ceramic Company, Tehran, Iran

Selected Group Exhibitions
Late 2022-2023	Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL  (forthcoming)
2022       Stories from my Childhood, NIU Art Museum (forthcoming) November 29th - February 17th
2022	Atelier Montez, Rome, Italy (forthcoming)
2021	‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Champion of Justice, Promoter of Unity, Exemplar of Service, Green Acre A Bahá'í Center of Learning, Eliot, ME 
2016	MFA Thesis Exhibition, Cyclorama, Boston, MA
2015	Violence Transformed, The Resnikoff Gallery, Roxbury Community College, Boston, MA
2015	Body of work, Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA
2015	Students Curate Students, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
 2015	First Year MFA Exhibition, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2015	SMFA Medici and MFA Museum Council Mission Hill Open Studios, Boston, MA
2014	Art Sale, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2014	New Student Show, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Awards/Fellowships/Residencies
2023	International Program at International Studio and Curatorial Program residency, Brookline, NYC (forthcoming) summer 
2022      BBC appreciation gift for use of my paintings
2021	Merit award from the Pinacothèque Art Museum in Luxembourg
2021	Finalist Prisma art prize 2021
2016	 The Romero Award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2014	MFA Scholarship, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Artist Talk/Presentation/Panel Discussion  
2023	Artist Talk at Crary Art Gallery, a Nonprofit Art Museum, Warren, PA (forthcoming)
2022	Artist Talk at Albany Museum of Art, GA (forthcoming) 
2022	Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton, OH 
2022	Discussion of my work at Art Class, Eton School, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
2021        Artist Talk at the Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette, IL
2016	Presentation of my art and panel discussion following the screening of the film “To Light the Candle” at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2016	Remarks at AJC Boston Diplomats Sedar, Boston, MA
2016	Graduation Speech at the Masters SMFA graduation ceremony, MFA Boston, MA

Professional Experience
2021	Teaching online private class on Portrait and Figures 
2021	Teaching online private class on Foundational of Virtual Art 
2016	Teacher assistant of Charles Goss (The Bridge DRW 1002 01) at SMFA, Boston, MA
2015	Graduate Teacher Assistant of Magdalena Campos-Pons (Painting & Drawing Practicum) at SMFA, Boston, MA 
2015	Scholastic Program, School of the 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 the United States 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 and interviews with the people who were near or in 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.

Many of my paintings depict the stories of the persecution of my immediate and extended family, the stories that I grew up with in my childhood. As a child I often accompanied my family to visit the homes of the Baha’is in Iran who had lost members of their family due to this persecution. My mother herself was in prison for about 2 years and nearly all her friends she was imprisoned with were executed for being Baha’i. We would often visit the families of her cellmates and I would hear first-hand the stories of these brave individuals from their closest relatives. While growing up my home was filled with the various stories of the persecution of the Baha’is around Iran and were woven into the fabric of my everyday life. These experiences in my formative years had a very influential effect on me and lay at the heart of my current artistic practice.

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. Bahá’í 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 prejudice; that is how we can eliminate our prejudices against any people on the basis of color, nationality, gender or identity, economic or educational status etc. As we know, these prejudices can complicate the development of our community and prevent us from growing together, from building a better world. I pose and also ask who individuals familiar with the events to pose and dress as the figures in my paintings. I have been working on this subject since 2013.
I primarily work with oil on Linen and when necessary, in the past, I have used 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 the 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

Selected Collections
Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton, OH
Hassan Movahhed, San Francisco, CA
Ali Ahmadi, Fair Oaks, CA
Kenneth Kamugisha, MA
Eman Namati, Arlington, MA
Molly Herman, Wayne, NE
Diane Herman, Curtis, NE
Joan and Al Lincoln, Boston, MA
Sara Afshar, MA
David Weigert, Malden, MA
Saghi Saadi, MA
Tim Ritchie, Harwichport, MA
Joanna Bertsekas, Belmont, MA

Press
2022 Yahoo! News
2022 Albany Herald
2022 Albany Museum of Art
2022 The International Peace Museum
2022 Fox 31 WFXL
2022 Downtown Dayton
2022 WDTN News
2022 The Oakwood Register
2022 BBC piece of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran, featuring my paintings
2022 Voice of America feature of the painting “Well”
2022 Radio Farda feature of the painting “Well”
2022 Radio Farda Artist New Year greeting
2021 BBC Video Feature on my art
2021 BBC Video Featuring my painting “Lover’s Migration”
2021 Radio Farda Interview
2021 Nashraasoo
2021 Sharks eat meat review
2021 Art Seen Magazine
2021 Tavaana
2021 Persian BMS Khabarnegar
2020 Radio Farda Picture of the day
2020 Persian BMS
2020 Persian BMS Teaser
2020 Iran Press Watch
2020 Iran Wire
2016 Boston Herald
2016 Artist at War
2016 VOA (Voice of America)
2016 El Mundo
2016 Iran Wire
2016 Center for Human Rights in Iran
2015 Nineteen Months

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2024 Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL (forthcoming)
2023 A Cry From the Heart, Crary Art Gallery, a Nonprofit Art Museum, Warren, PA (forthcoming) April, 1st – 30th
2022 Albany Museum of Art, GA (forthcoming) Oct 6th – January 31st
2022 A Cry From the Heart, Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton, OH August 19th – September 24th
2022 ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL July 21st – August 13th
2021 Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette, IL
2015 “To Light A Candle” film screening, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
2010 Ceramics Exhibition, Alborz Ceramic Company, Tehran, Iran

Selected Group Exhibitions
Late 2022-2023 Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL (forthcoming)
2022 Stories from my Childhood, NIU Art Museum (forthcoming) November 29th - February 17th
2022 Atelier Montez, Rome, Italy (forthcoming)
2021 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Champion of Justice, Promoter of Unity, Exemplar of Service, Green Acre A Bahá'í Center of Learning, Eliot, ME
2016 MFA Thesis Exhibition, Cyclorama, Boston, MA
2015 Violence Transformed, The Resnikoff Gallery, Roxbury Community College, Boston, MA
2015 Body of work, Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA
2015 Students Curate Students, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2015 First Year MFA Exhibition, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2015 SMFA Medici and MFA Museum Council Mission Hill Open Studios, Boston, MA
2014 Art Sale, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2014 New Student Show, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Awards/Fellowships/Residencies
2023 International Program at International Studio and Curatorial Program residency, Brookline, NYC (forthcoming) summer
2022 BBC appreciation gift for use of my paintings
2021 Merit award from the Pinacothèque Art Museum in Luxembourg
2021 Finalist Prisma art prize 2021
2016 The Romero Award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2014 MFA Scholarship, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Artist Talk/Presentation/Panel Discussion
2023 Artist Talk at Crary Art Gallery, a Nonprofit Art Museum, Warren, PA (forthcoming)
2022 Artist Talk at Albany Museum of Art, GA (forthcoming)
2022 Dayton International Peace Museum, Dayton, OH
2022 Discussion of my work at Art Class, Eton School, Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
2021 Artist Talk at the Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette, IL
2016 Presentation of my art and panel discussion following the screening of the film “To Light the Candle” at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2016 Remarks at AJC Boston Diplomats Sedar, Boston, MA
2016 Graduation Speech at the Masters SMFA graduation ceremony, MFA Boston, MA

Professional Experience
2021 Teaching online private class on Portrait and Figures
2021 Teaching online private class on Foundational of Virtual Art
2016 Teacher assistant of Charles Goss (The Bridge DRW 1002 01) at SMFA, Boston, MA
2015 Graduate Teacher Assistant of Magdalena Campos-Pons (Painting & Drawing Practicum) at SMFA, Boston, MA
2015 Scholastic Program, School of the 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