Shattering Stereotypes of Iranian Women Through Art

Headshot of a smiling woman with black, short hair.

As a visual artist, curator, and filmmaker, Parisa Ghaderi has always taken into consideration her identity as an Iranian woman and has expressed her identity through her work.

“Every exhibition I have seen about Iranian women is always in black and white imagery and features people with hijab and chador with very extreme and radical perspectives. To me, it feels like these exhibitions are stuck in time,” said Ghaderi, who is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. “We have to keep up with the new generation and what’s happening in the sociopolitical Iran of today. I want to emphasize that perspectives have changed, and now there’s more freedom in terms of women presenting themselves in public.”

An exhibition that Ghaderi co-curated with Mahsa Soroudi that is now on display at (SCENE) Metrospace includes artwork from 16 Iranian women, most of whom live and work inside Iran, giving insight into Iranian women’s lives in a way that shatters stereotypes. The exhibit, titled Inner Fragments, includes paintings, animations, videography installations, photography, and small sculptures.

image of art at an exhibit
The “Inner Fragments” exhibit is on display at (SCENE) Metrospace through February 14, 2020.

“The idea behind the exhibition is to give the artists the proper exposure they deserve and to create something that corrects this distorted image of Iran and Iranian women because they are usually portrayed as oppressed,” Ghaderi said. “When you see the exhibition and how women dress in modern Iran, you will be surprised.”

During a time with high political tensions between the United States and Iran, this exhibition serves as a beacon of peace and understanding.

“Many people in both Iran and the United States only follow the horrible and biased news, which doesn’t give them the proper viewpoint of what’s really happening inside each country and who the people are that live there,” Ghaderi said. “I think that only through art you can touch others’ hearts.”

The idea behind the exhibition is to give the artists the proper exposure they deserve and to create something that corrects this distorted image of Iran and Iranian women because they are usually portrayed as oppressed.


Inner Fragments is on display at (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles Street in East Lansing, until February 14, 2020, and has previously toured in places like Norwest Gallery in Detroit, University of Maine Farmington, the Fitton Center in Ohio, and the University of Michigan.

Ghaderi also recently worked with MSU Associate Professor of Film Studies Kaveh Askari for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum’s Underground Film Series, Not Far from Here, which explored the diverse work of Iranian moving-image artists through animations, live-action, and archival forms, emphasizing the cross-disciplinary and multimedia practices of contemporary Iranian video art. This event was well attended and took place in January.

“The work in Not Far from Here is so diverse, some of the pieces have social messages, some of them are very personal, and some of them are experimental,” Ghaderi said.

Three people looking at a painting
The “Inner Fragments” exhibit on display at (SCENE) Metrospace features artwork from 16 Iranian women.

The aim of both Inner Fragments and Not Far from Here is to expand artistic endeavors across campus to include diverse perspectives.

Ghaderi has a BFA in Visual Communication from Art & Architecture University in Tehran, Iran, an MFA in Visual Communication from Tarbiat Modares in Tehran, Iran, and an MFA in Art and Design from the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art & Design.

Her films have appeared at festivals around the world, including the New York International Immigration Film Festival, Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, Impact DOCS, Cinetopia Film Festival, Berlin Flash Film Festival, FREEP Film Festival, Television As Art Festival in France, and the International Film Festival for Documentary, Short, and Comedy in Indonesia. In addition, her artwork has been displayed at various venues throughout the United States, including A.I.R Gallery in New York, Shirin Gallery in New York, Touchstone Gallery in Washington, D.C., and ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.

Ghaderi’s work also has been featured in The Huffington PostThe Brooklyn RailMichigan Daily, the Visual ARTBEAT Magazine, and more.

This coming summer, Ghaderi will be part of the Harpo Foundation’s residency program, where she will be working on photo documenting the recurring dreams of immigrants.

Written by Annie Dubois