I am a conceptual artist whose work investigates the permanently transient state of the refugee body and its negotiation and reconciliation with Place. I utilize sculpture, installation, photography, print media, and writing to manifest this transient state through architectural objects, images, and videos narrating the idea of Passage and the relationship between liminal spaces and transit.
Born into a family of Kurdish descent in Iran, I moved to the United States in 2014 after living as a refugee for three years. By referencing my personal history, I am able to humanize, edify, and narrate the deeply poetic, peculiar, and misunderstood experience of forced exile. My approach in addressing transnational migration is to highlight the resiliency and resourcefulness inherent to this experience and to reclaim the denied agency of the exiled.
My interest in homes and bodily connection to Place begins by recognizing the womb-like character of the enclosed space and its nurturing qualities. I know this connection goes beyond connection to the physical structure of a home itself. What makes a home is not just the bathroom tiles or its doors and walls. What makes a home is the groundedness it offers to the body. Home is the permission to stay. Once the moment of exile arrives, however, this permission to stay gives way to a new reality for the exiled. Now Home is a metaphor that latches onto things as one moves through the world. Eventually, this uprooted sense of belonging finds solace in its permanently transient state.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1995 in Tehran, Iran, Helia Pouyanfar immigrated to California in 2014. She received her B.A. in Art Practice from University of California, Berkeley and her MFA in Studio Art from University of California, Davis specializing in sculpture and installation art.
Pouyanfar has been the recipient of multiple awards, including the Lauren Krikorian Memorial Prize and Certificate of Excellence in Sculpture from UC Berkeley and Mary Lou Osborn Award and the 2021 Margrit Mondavi Graduate Fellowship from UC Davis.
Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout California and abroad, including at the Manetti Shrem Museum in Davis, Axis Gallery in Sacramento, Root Division and Southern Exposure in San Francisco, Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, The Niche at Dovetail Magazine in Scotland, and most recently at The Plaxall Gallery in Queens, New York. She currently resides in Berkeley, CA and maintains an art studio practice in the Bay Area.
© Helia Pouyanfar