Edmonds College faculty member shining a light on unrest in Iran with her artwork

Audineh Asaf’s collection of work, Woman.Life.Freedom, highlights the human rights protests in Iran and can be seen at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at UW from Feb. 14-24. (Image courtesy of Audineh Asaf)

Edmonds College faculty member Audineh Asaf will have her artwork, Woman.Life.Freedom. displayed through several outlets over the next several weeks, including at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery on the campus of the University of Washington in February. Asaf, the chair of the art department at Edmonds, created her body of work to amplify the voice and visibility of Iranian women who are bravely defying tyranny and protesting for their freedoms.

“I believe in the protestors and this movement in Iran, and I create work with a positive vision of the future for the Iranian people,” Asaf said. “As the protests continue, I will continue to make art that represents these moments and honors the people taking a stand for their human rights and giving their lives for the rights of others. I want my work to remind others that Iranians are still fighting for freedom, and we need to keep talking about Iran and amplify Iranian voices all over the world. My art is one thing I can do to support the protestors.”

For Asaf, the conflict in Iran is personal. Her father is originally from the country, and she still has family members who live there. She says, “When I look at the faces of the protestors, I see my dad, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I have deep compassion for Iranians and an understanding of the oppression they’ve lived with under this regime, both women and men. I hope that the emotion I feel is communicated in this work and sparks a little more interest and empathy from those who don’t have a direct connection with Iran and Iranians.”

Asaf will join other Seattle-based Iranian artists, Nakisa Dehpanah, Sadaf Sadri, and Parmida Ziaei, highlighting the plight of women living in Iran in a group exhibit themed “Art as Activism” at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery.

The exhibition runs from Feb. 14-24 and will be housed in the temporary gallery space in Room 212 of the University of Washington’s Art Building. The Jacob Lawrence Gallery will hold an opening reception for the show on Feb. 14 from 5-7 p.m.

The exhibition at UW is one of several spots Asaf’s work is currently being highlighted. She received the Future Art Award from MOZAIK Philanthropy and earned a spot in a virtual exhibition with other Iranian artists. She will be featured in Issue II of Women United ART MAGAZINE and is one of the “In the Spotlight” artists. She most recently learned that the Culture Lab, LIC in New York City, has chosen to include five pieces of her work from Feb. 9-March 26 in an exhibition featuring other Iranian artists.

“The selection team said that they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of submissions, so I’m very honored and thrilled to be a part of the exhibit,” Asaf said of the Anonymouslyاز Iran show in New York.

Having her artwork on display is a shift in philosophy for Asaf. Until recently, Asaf was more focused on the artmaking process, experimenting with materials, and inventing new techniques. The unrest in Iran has inspired her to put her work on display.

“I didn’t see my art serving a particular purpose beyond my necessity to create it,” Asaf explained. “Inspired by the protests in Iran, it suddenly became essential for me to get this work out there to inform others. I feel strongly about the situation in Iran, and I don’t think it’s getting enough attention and support, especially in the U.S., so I want to shine a light on it.

“Previously, I wanted to avoid politics in my art. My work was more about self-discovery and celebrating and honoring things I found beautiful — I wanted to create beautiful things that take me away from troubles in the world. When I started seeing images of the protestors, I saw something beautiful. While there is a much darker side to the protests — people being imprisoned, tortured, and killed just for speaking out —my work highlights the beauty of this movement. I want to show the protestors’ passion, power, and determination — the spark that ignited it all.”

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