Interior Art | Artistic freedom inspires Iranian artist


Shahrbanoo Hamzeh “Delightful Scars # 1” acrylic on canvas, 25 inches by 22.25 inches, 2021. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Nichole Gronvold Roll


Iranian-born painter Shahrbanoo Hamzeh moved to the United States in 2018 as a graduate student and received a master’s degree in painting from Illinois State University in the spring of 2021. Since graduating, the artist went on to develop a series of works of art that encompass conflict. from the diaspora, an examination of the ambiguity of boundaries and the complexities of family dynamics; especially, in a country where the Ayatollah is in control, often placing little value on the rights of women and girls.

Amnesty International reports that in 2020, discriminatory violence in Iran continues as… “authorities have failed to criminalize domestic violence, marital rape, early and forced marriage and other gender-based violence against women and girls, which have remained widespread ”.

After leaving Iran for the United States, Hamzeh felt a sense of calm. “I feel more valued and appreciated here as a human, woman and artist.” Asking the painter about what she misses in her homeland, Hamzeh said she mostly misses her family and “… time that I could spend with my parents, siblings and nieces.” My friends and different things we could do together.

“We have a radically different social background. For example, we shake hands or kiss each other every time we see each other, even though we see each other several times a day. I miss food. There are no Iranian restaurants in the area, and some ingredients are not easily found here. I miss a lot of places, streets and cities… ”

Hamzeh also said that she did not miss “the compulsory hijab, for sure. I love that I can choose what to wear. I am always afraid of the police and that I could be arrested or even killed for no reason.

After receiving her elective practical training employment authorization card in October, Hamzeh accepted the position of gallery coordinator at Heartland Community College. Another change in the artist’s life was moving his studio to North Art Studios in Peoria.

Hamzeh’s new space is full of paintings at different stages, from finished rooms to work in progress; She is preparing her next solo exhibition “Home Sweet Home” at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria. Interwoven with Hamzeh’s paintings are printed copies of inspirations from artists: Marlene Dumas, Tomoo Gokita, Jennifer Packer and Maja Ruznic. Hamzeh spoke enthusiastically about these influential artists for the way they handled painting.

Even though Hamzeh does not consider himself a painter of figures, many of his paintings have a strong human presence. From the first impression, Hamzeh’s “Delightful Scars” and “Welcoming in the Front Door” series seem ethereal with their tranquil colors of soft, meditative acrylic washes. On closer inspection, subtle hints of an underlying duality exist in Hamzeh’s alluring stained canvases.

Reframing what are seen as symbols of security, Hamzeh questions the fact that life is not always a reflection of outward appearances. Easily persuaded by an attractive surface, one may be bewildered to discover a less apparent moral turpitude lurking beneath.

Watching ‘Home Sweet Home’, Hamzeh hopes that ‘the public can find my works visually interesting and spend time with them. I also see my show as an opportunity to talk about one of my biggest concerns, human rights violations in Iran… at the same time, my works of art can be of interest to the audience here. Many of the issues I’m talking about are also grappling with people – in different ways and at different levels. “

Artist Shahrbanoo Hamzeh’s “Home Sweet Home” exhibition will be held in the Preston Jackson Gallery at the Contemporary Art Center from January 7 to February 19. A combined artist reception with Roger Bean and Chuck Flagg will take place on January 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with music by Preston Jackson and John Miller Duo.

Shahrbanoo Hamzeh’s artwork can be found at

The Contemporary Art Center is accessible at


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