Afruz Amighi is the inaugural recipient of the Jameel Prize for Middle Eastern contemporary art. Raised in New York by Zoroastrian and Jewish parents, Amighi's upbringing infuses her work with global awareness and a distanced view of her native country's turmoil. Like her other shadow works, Still Garden is created by the projection of light through a hand-cut stencil sheet of woven polyethylene (the material used to construct refugee tents). Amighi's use of vegetal and geopmetric patterns bridges contemporary sensibilities and artistic references from Iran, Ottomoan Turkey, and Andalusia. The presence of crowns and serpents - an allusion to the story of the evil figure Zahhak in the Persian national epic, the Shahnama of Firdausi - as well as shackled birds and bouquets of flowers, presents a nuanced commentary on the current politics of the region, while the play of shadows creates a tanatlizing and ethereal effect.
[ Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, 2011; sold to MMA]