64 Parishes

Weaving the Immigrant Journey into Art

Iranian-born Sara Rastegar curates Living the Unknown

Published: February 29, 2024
Last Updated: June 1, 2024

Weaving the Immigrant Journey into Art

Photo by Casey Jones

Rastegar with examples of her work.

Most residents of this country can trace at least part of their ancestry to an immigrant, yet few of us have a clear understanding of the challenges of immigrating and the courage it takes. Iranian-born artist Sara Rastegar employs interdisciplinary practices encompassing installation art, sculpture, photography, and printmaking to invite viewers to transcend boundaries and embrace the unknown. Utilizing a diverse array of artistic materials including glass, bronze, plaster, wood, concrete, and prints, her art engages the senses and prompts contemplation of the immigration experience. Rastegar is curating Living the Unknown and exhibiting along with Iranian artists Nida Bangash and Fatemeh Hosseini at artspace in downtown Shreveport through March 16, 2024.

Rastegar chooses her materials deliberately. Recycled crushed glass poured directly onto the floor with no binder to hold the material in place serves as a potent symbol of vulnerability, uncertainty, and exposure. Soil in her art carries profound symbolism, representing home and land. Its inclusion in the art speaks to the fundamental quest for belonging embedded in the immigrant narrative. Text, in both English and Persian, is woven through her work, creating a linguistic bridge, and encouraging a dialogue with viewers on the complexity of the immigrant experience.

Rastegar explained that for her, “immigration is not solely a geographical relocation, but rather a profound journey into the unknown, where the constants are unpredictability and change. It is both exhilarating and daunting, weaving together optimism and despondency, and relentlessly testing our convictions and fortitude. At its core, immigration demands an unwavering bravery to confront uncertainties and navigate uncharted territories, whether they be physical or within the recesses of the mind. I invite those viewing the Living the Unknown exhibition at artspace in downtown Shreveport to contemplate the multi-faceted nature of immigration. It is a narrative that resonates with anyone navigating the complexities of personal growth.”

Fellow exhibitor Nida Bangash’s art features intricate patterns and precise detail that weaves in personal identity and experience to investigate the complexities of immigration, colonialism, culture, and race. Iranian filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist Fatemeh Hosseini uses an interactive installation of video art and visual art to explore a connection that might only exist intuitively but is an intersecting moment when the viewer responds to a quest to confront a state of alienation from the self and to find reconciliation through connecting.

Collectively, the three artists’ work encourages the audience to experience a deeper understanding of the shared human experience of adaptation and transformation, both physically and mentally. “It is our immigration experience that underscores the universality of the encounter, emphasizing that the journey into the unknown is not exclusive to those who cross international boundaries,” says Rastegar.

According to Rastegar, Living the Unknown celebrates the resilience required to embark on a new journey. The artworks capture both the highs and lows and underscore that hope can prevail even amidst challenges. The art invites viewers to engage with the immigrant journey physically and emotionally. The exhibition challenges preconceptions and biases and becomes a testament to the enduring nature of hope in the face of the unknown.

Sara Rastegar, Nida Bangash, and Fatemeh Hosseini exhibit Living the Unknown at artspace in downtown Shreveport through March 16, 2024. To find out more, visit artspaceshreveport.com.