image Elnaz Javani, “Bulk, 2017.”
Iranian-Assyrian student Hannibal Alkhas jumped from one part of the brain to the other when he ditched his medical studies to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1952. After studying under a number of faculty members including painter Boris Anisfeld, Alkhas returned to Iran and revamped the art programs at the University of Tehran.
So began a steady stream of Iranian artists like Mehdu Hosseini who made their way to SAIC. The 1979 Islamic Revolution kicked this number up a notch, and soon second- and third-generation Iranian-Americans began to use art as a way of navigating their dual heritage. “Sedentary Fragmentation” at Heaven Gallery traces this lineage and unites several Iranian voices, generations and alumni who studied at SAIC.
Kimia Maleki curated this nine-person show, which includes work from Alkhas himself.
“I'd say this is the first time that these Iranian and Iranian-American artists are showing their work together,” Maleki says. “You’ll see how they all had different experiences of being categorized as ‘exotic’ in the art scene.”
Joining the late Alkhas is Maryam Hoseini, who examines the relationship between the body and architecture — fitting subject material for an exhibition concerning national identities — and Yasi Ghanbari, an interdisciplinary artist whose practice with media mimics the show’s intercultural exchange.