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Artist explores politics of exile on April 5

Iranian-born Taraneh Hemami visits CSUMB

Iranian-born visual artist Taraneh Hemami has two homes – and she also has none. When Hemami came to the United States in 1978 to attend the University of Oregon, she planned to return home after she finished school. Within a year, however, the Iranian Revolution had changed her homeland forever and prevented her from returning for more than a decade.

As an Iranian living in the United States, it's not surprising that Hemami's art would explore her complex relationship with the concept of home and her struggle to secure a sense of belonging from both her country of residence and her native country. In many ways, Hemami's art is her home. "There is a sense of satisfaction in placing myself within the walls that I create," Hemami told KQED’s Quest program in an interview several years ago.

The local community will have the opportunity to learn about Hemami’s work when she visits CSU Monterey Bay on April 5. Her free talk, part of the Visiting Artists Series, will start at 6 p.m. in the University Center ballroom. The University Center is located on Sixth Avenue at B Street. Driving directions and a campus map can be found here.

One of her public art projects is currently on display at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The installation, on display until August of 2013, is a neon sign with the word “free” – in English and Arabic – repeated in a circle, acting, Hemami said, as a prayer or chant. The English version, in blue, can be read from the interior of the building; the Arabic version, in yellow, can be read from outside.

Hemami told the San Francisco Chronicle that she surrounded the neon with the geometric patterns one finds on the dome of a mosque or bazaar. At the center of the pattern, in place of the dome’s peak, is the neon light calling for freedom.

Hemami’s visit concludes the Visiting Artist Series for this academic year.