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* The following is an update from the artist, submitted on July 15, 2013:
I remember how frustrating it was for me as a young girl to hear sentences that started with “you can’t” all the time from my family, friends and society at large. Although I understand the reason for that, which was for my own protection from the dangers that mostly target women in a society such as Iran, it still made me feel really angry and weak.
One of the things I was told I could never be was an artist. I always got the message from my family and friends that my art was never taken seriously, and that it did not have any value whatsoever. As a result, I studied computer science to make everyone believe in me. Even though I tried to fit in, I never did.
Finally, after finishing school, I decided that being an artist was the only thing that I’ve always wanted to be and the only thing that I CAN be. I knew it was going to be hard to start over again but I self-educated myself, then moved to the United States to attend school. In 2012, I got my Masters Degree in Fine Arts.
I still had a hard time calling myself an artist until the I CAN WE CAN exhibition in April 2013. It was then that I suddenly started to believe in myself. It happened when I saw my bio and artist statement on the wall, next to the work of more than 500 people who were featured in the art exhibition I put together.
At the opening reception, I remember that my mom called from Iran. I shared: "I’m at the opening reception of my exhibition tonight. It’s done, I did it!" She replied: "Yeah, good," and continued talking about regular stuff that happened that day. For a moment, I was devastated, thinking that after all I have done to say "I CAN be an artist," still no one sees it.
Nevertheless, I saw myself that night, and I know that many people saw me as the lead artist in the exhibition. I saw my reflection in the mirrors that I installed at the gallery myself. I saw my happy face in that reflection and I knew that from that moment on, it was my decision to be an artist, not anyone else's. So this is what I promise myself, and I wrote it on a paper-cut hand and put it up on the wall in the gallery as the first hand that was created: “I CAN be an artist!”
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