ArteEast is pleased to present an interview with artist Sara Z. Meghdari as part of our Artist Spotlight series.
Sara Z. Meghdari is an Iranian-American Interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Meghdari holds a MFA in Photography, Video & Related Media from the School of Visual Arts and a BA in Communication from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She has been twice awarded the Alice Beck-Odette Scholarship Award as well as the Thomas Reiss Memorial Award. Meghdari is an alumna of the Female Engaging Artist Residency Series (FEARS) at the University of Colorado and the Engaging Artists Residency Program with the More-Art Organization. Her work has been shown at the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Colorado, the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, the 10th Annual Governors Island Art Fair, and the Queens Museum of Art, among others. Meghdari is currently a co-director at Transmitter Gallery, an artist-run space in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
ArteEast: Can you tell us about your work in general and the main themes you return to in your practice?
Sara Z. Meghdari: As an interdisciplinary artist, I work in the mediums of photography, video, installation, and performance. I’m heavily influenced by my bicultural background as an Iranian American woman, living in the United States. My work aims to create narratives that can transcend and complicate difference; it is a reflection of culture as well as the self.
AE: Many of your past works such as Zan (2020), Zaferan on My Tongue (2019) and My Body is Mine (2019), have addressed women’s issues in Iran. Do you feel these works have taken on a new significance or a different tone since the start of the Feminist uprising/revolution in Iran? How have these works been received by audiences in the West?
SZM: The works mentioned address women’s issues all around the world. However, they do specifically resonate with the current “Woman, Life, Freedom” Movement in Iran. As a multicultural artist, I do feel the constant need to explain the cultural background and history that deeply influences my artwork. However, since the uprising, Western audience seem to have a bit more context when viewing my work.
AE: Tell us about your video work, In the U.S. (2021). What was the process behind creating this piece and what motivated you to address the subject of Iran’s portrayal in American film and tv?
SZM: Growing up with an American mother and Iranian Father, I have always been hyper-aware of the types of instances highlighted in the video. These soundbites provide a pseudo sense of recognition while also being deeply offensive and harmful. Through the last few years, I began to mark the titles and times in well-known movies and tv shows where these quick moments appear. Seeing the clips next to each other displays how efficiently the media subliminally manipulates their audience and encourages prejudicial behavior and bias towards targeted communities.
in the U.S., 2021, Video, 6 minutes 37 seconds
AE: You’ve been a co-director at Transmitter Gallery in Brooklyn since 2021. What was your impetus to join this curatorial initiative, and what are some of the projects that you have worked on there?
SZM: I view my curatorial work as an extension of my art practice. The ideas presented in the exhibitions are aligned with my passions. I also enjoy being able to provide opportunities to artists working in these realms, who don’t often get the chance to showcase their work. Since being at Transmitter, I have had the privilege to work with the co-curators, Melvin Harper & Farideh Sakhaeifar separately on two exhibitions, titled A Discours of Accord and In the Absence of Memories…There Are Fragments.
AE: What and who are some of your major creative influences, and why?
SZM: I find myself influenced by everyday life. The mundane moments seem to convey the most complex of ideas. My family, and my husband, fellow artist Dareece Walker, are my biggest inspirations. Of course, I am influenced by many other artists: Nicholas Nixon, Paul Graham, James Van Der Zee, Betye Saar, Sanja Ivekovic, Mark Bradford, David Alfaro Siqueiros to name a few.
AE: What are you currently working on and do you have any shows or projects upcoming in 2023-2024?
SZM: I am always thinking of new ideas and materials I would like to experiment with. Currently, I am very slowly working on a book that shows a collection of photographs I have been taking of my family and friends for the past 10 years. I am also in the process of collecting materials for an installation, I soon plan to realize.
SARA Z MEGHDARI ONLINE: