A persistent worry of those pursuing degrees in the arts, especially with the exorbitant cost of higher education, is finding commercial and economic success. The difficulty of supporting yourself as an artist goes without saying. One New Paltz alumna who seems to be a model for this success is Zahra Nazari.
Nazari, who was born in Iran and lived there until attending SUNY New Paltz, has been garnering accolades left and right. She currently lives in New York City, where she has a studio at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. Her work, which primarily consists of large installations and abstract paintings, has been displayed in galleries and museums around the world, from the Millenium Monument in China to the Saba Institution in Iran and, of course, New Paltz’s own Dorsky Museum.
The Oracle recently spoke with Nazari about her success, her story as an artist, and her inspirations.
Where do you get your primary inspiration for your art?
My main inspiration has been my immigration; generally, my shifting culture and environment. I use architecture as a metaphor for shelter and idea of home.
How did you get your start as an artist?
As long as I can remember, painting has always been my emotional outlet. Thankfully, I have a supportive family. I was able to study Fine Arts in high school, and I received an undergraduate degree in Painting from the Tabriz School of Art in Iran.
Why did you decide to attend New Paltz, having been from Iran?
I was searching for a program that was supportive of international students and offered diverse facilities in art. SUNY New Paltz was certainly remarkable in that regard. In addition, it offered the peaceful and relaxing environment of New Paltz contrasting with the opposite environment nearby with its close proximity to New York City.
What plans do you have for the future of your art and artistic career?
My plan is to create public art and travel internationally to expand my career further.
What was the most valuable thing you learned from your time at New Paltz?
Experimenting and learning from mistakes was the most valuable thing I learned.
What do you think is significant and important to know about your work? What messages do you hope to send?
The root of my imagery is the important part of my work. While my work is abstracted forms of architecture, it always contains symbols and elements of significant places, either historic or cultural. Painted imaginary futuristic landscape and cities, my work takes up between realism, abstraction, two and three dimensional in deconstructivism style. I exercise a style of painting to reveal my feelings about my immigration through my work. The changes I feel and the transformation of the known to an unknown and unfamiliar to familiar. These are the messages I hope to transmit to my audience.
As a New Paltz student, it was very encouraging to talk to Nazari about her artistic presence, her success, and her plans. We here at The Oracle wish her continued success in her future endeavors.