News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

PHOTOS: Irving exhibition protests oppression of young women leading Iranian uprising

A woman snaps a photo of a painting.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Moojan Hakim takes a photo of Zahra Jafarpour's "Life After/Before Death" on display at Irving Arts Center, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Irving. The opening night of the exhibition "Woman, Life, Freedom DFW" responded to the Iranian uprising led by young women with a variety of artworks and performances.

Over 35 North Texas artists used sculptures, paintings and music to speak out against the violence.

Explore more stories from Arts Access.

On Saturday night, the halls of the Irving Arts Center echoed with singing and setar playing, spoken word poetry and discussions about the paintings, sculptures and installation artworks at the opening of the Woman, Life, Freedom DFW exhibition.

Over 35 North Texas artists, many of them Iranian women, displayed and shared their work in protest of the oppression of young women, men and children during the Iranian uprising.

The uprising began in September, after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed by the “morality police,” who claimed she violated strict dress codes. Since then, Iranian women have been leading mass protests against the country’s regime.

As mass demonstrations have spread throughout the country, “Woman, Life, Freedom” has become a rallying call in the face of brutal killings and crackdowns by Iranian authorities.

Over 18,000 people have been detained and over 400 protesters have been killed, according to reports by Human Rights Activists in Iran.

North Texan Niloo Jalilvand, one of the exhibition’s organizers, said the violence and oppression of women during the uprising feel deeply personal. Born in Tehran, she still has family and friends in Iran.

The exhibition’s mission, Jalilvand said, is to promote awareness and show solidarity with “the women of Iran and all people fighting for civil rights in the face of authoritarian, theocratic regimes that fuel violence, particularly against women.”

Among other performances, the exhibition’s opening night featured a hair braiding ceremony, modern storytelling and a performance by Iranian singer and setar player Fared Shafinury, a Texas native.

Although the Iranian uprising is happening halfway across the world, Jalilvand said the exhibition’s message is still relevant in Texas.

“It takes little small steps to take away someone’s rights and voice,” she said. “You know the way that women are being treated right now, it didn’t just happen overnight. It was a slow progression that before you know it, you realize that you’re actually quite trapped and to a point where the violence is beyond imagination.”

PHOTOS

A woman dances.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Shahrzad Hamzeh dances on opening night of the Woman, Life, Freedom exhibition in “One Woman’s Improvisation,” which the program describes as “an expression in response to atrocities happening to the courageous warrior women of Iran.”
A green and gold sculpture.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Ramak Baghaie’s “Woman Life Freedom” is a glazed clay sculpture. Baghaie said it shows two faces of a young woman, representing the sadness of the ongoing revolution and the hope for a peaceful future.
A woman wears a red and black head piece.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Artist Maryam Takalou wears her piece “Beyond the Nets," a head cover made in the likeness of Iranian pigeon towers, which Takalou uses to symbolize the female body. The piece is made from pigeon wire and fabric from a kind of prayer garment worn by Iranian women. The fabric was sent to Takalou by her family in Tehran.
Two women look at headdresses.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Neda Dehghani and Gita Ferdosian look at “Beyond the Nets” by Maryam Takalou at Irving Arts Center.
A woman sits on a chair wrapped in flowers and pipe covers. Another woman puts a hat on the woman sitting down.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Artists Parisa Haghighi and Nazanin Ahmadi perform “Beauty Can Not Be Conquered” on opening night of the Woman, Life, Freedom DFW exhibition. The performance is meant to reflect the tragedy of living in oppression without basic human rights.
A Dell monitor with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei painted on it.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Zahra Jafarpour’s “Autopsy of Monitors” shows Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei painted on a Dell monitor. Khamenei has been at the center of protesters’ frustrations, with many chanting the popular slogan “Death to the dictator."
Three paintings made with ink, charcoal powder and acrylic paint.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Marjaneh Goudarzi uses charcoal powder, ink and acrylic paint in “Persimmons,” a collection of three paintings inspired by her daughter Shayan Javadi’s music video “Persimmon Tree,” which was played at opening night. Goudarzi said her paintings depict her daughter’s journey to embrace her identity as a member of the Iranian diaspora and as a transgender woman.
A blue shiny sculpture stands on three legs.
Rebecca Slezak
/
The Dallas Morning News
Mari Hidalgo King’s “Y.O.M.P,” a shiny blue sculpture, is meant to capture “the intrinsic power, resiliency and importance of a woman." Y.O.M.P. stands for “your own marching pace.”

Details: The Woman, Life, Freedom Exhibition runs until Jan. 21 at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 North MacArthur Blvd. Irving, Texas 75062. Free admission. Gallery hours are 12-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday.

Arts Access is a partnership between The Dallas Morning News and KERA that expands local arts, music and culture coverage through the lens of access and equity.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

Elizabeth Myong is KERA’s Arts Collaborative Reporter. She came to KERA from New York, where she worked as a CNBC fellow covering breaking news and politics. Before that, she freelanced as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a modern arts reporter for Houstonia Magazine.