Influences Issues affect Lives Iranian American Women Artists

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian artist who left Iran in 1974 to study at UC Berkeley, earning an MFA. She has remained in the U.S. living in New York City. She visited Iran in 1990. After her trip, she began the series of works “Women of Allah” where she becomes the performer, posing for her photographs.
In this assignment you will be considering the influences and issues that affect the lives of Iranian and American women artists.

Watch this Ted Talk



Shirin Neshat , Rebellious Silence (1994). B/W Photograph, pen and ink. Women of Allah series.
Assignment Specifications:

• This paper is an essay, and should consist of your own original thought and perspective.

• Be sure to reference specific pieces of work and the posted material for this assignment.
• Length: 2 – 3 pages in length, 12 point font, double spaced.
Compose an essay addressing the following theme:

If a contemporary American female were to create a photographic series addressing the influences and issues that affect their lives …

1) How would it be different than Shirin Neshat’s Women of Allah?
2) In what ways would it be the same?
Your Paper should have 5 paragraphs


First paragraph with THESIS: sentence suggesting the topic of your paper.
• Describe what your American artist’s photograph would look like (Include a description of subject (clothing, objects in photograph), setting (background images … urban vs. rural, home, etc.), and point of view (close-up, from far away, above, below, etc.).
Consider the lives of American Women, and American artists.
Consider issues of race, gender, religion or ethnic background.
• Briefly describe how it is different from Neshat’s work.
Describe your feelings when you first viewed Neshat’s work.

PARAGRAPH 2: Discuss background of Shirin Neshat’s Women of Allah.
• Using the resources provided, consider Neshat’s visual exploration of women’s experiences, Islamic fundamentalism and militancy before, during, and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
• Mention roles of women in Iran before 1979; their role during the war; and their role in society post-war.
• Elaborate on any changing roles that may have occurred (western influences vs. religious fundamentalism)
PARAGRAPH 3 (4, 5, and 6 if needed): Discuss DIFFERENCES in Neshat’s photo and your American photo.
o THINK: Has the impact of war (any US war … affected gender roles in our country … or has it affected women’s search for identity here)? Similarities or Differences.
Discuss 2-3 differences.
(Compare culture of U.S. and Iran; roles of women in each culture)
Refer to at least 2 specific works of art by Shirin Neshat.
(Mention details (objects, clothing, etc.) from these photos).
Discuss 2-3 similarities (or if you find fewer similarities explain why).
(Think about clothing; writing; roles of women; control of women’s bodies, gun culture, brainstorm …


How might this artwork provoke deeper contemplation regarding the role of Iranian women and the role of American women?
• Offer your opinion of what you have learned from Neshat’s photographs. Has this discussion opened your eyes to another culture? How would you feel if you were silenced or in exile (not allowed to protest or offer opinions in your own country?)
A CONCLUSION IS THE LAST THING AN INSTRUCTOR READS, so do not just end your paper abruptly. A strong conclusion can leave the instructor with a stronger opinion of your paper
First, View this Ted Talk video and the following links on the historical relevance of the Iran war, its influence on Neshat, and its relationship with the Islamic revolution.

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