We had the good fortune of connecting with Marzieh Saffarian and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marzieh, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
One of my favorite recent books is “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In short, it is a story about a woman from Nigeria who moves to the United States to attend college and her perspective of the new world around her. The book deals with racism, sexism, and what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. To me, this book was profound on so many levels. For one, she talks a lot about expectations and assumptions placed on her by her American peers that are not familiar with her or her culture. As a first generation immigrant, I have dealt with a lot of incorrect assumptions placed on me, by men and well-meaning women alike, which can at times feel daunting. I also really loved that “Americanah” told the immigrant story in ways that mainstream America is not always used to hearing. Much like Ifemelu (the main character), my father is an immigrant who has had to struggle with identity and the challenges that come along with searching for the elusive “American dream”. Her struggles and the idea that “not all that glitters is gold” really hit close to home. It’s a beautiful, educational book and a really fantastic read.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I create collages and watercolor paintings under the brand PsychPersia. Visually, I take so much inspiration from both Persian and American art and pop culture of the 60s and 70s, as well as textiles and architectural influences like mosaics. I’m a big fan of Persian Nomadic art with its bright rich saturated colors and floral/geometric patterns. Many of my collages are a composite of my Iranian and American roots. So, in my work you’ll see a nod to rock and roll and disco, along with the representation of Persian icons like Googoosh . These influences meshed together and come out in collage work. On a deeper level my art draws from the relationship between my eastern ancestry and western upbringing which has been at times isolating, but has given me a unique perspective into two different worlds. I have always been passionate about art, but I did not pursue it as a career. Then, in 2016 I started an Instagram account by the name of @vintagepersia, which is a collection of memorabilia and family photos designed to create a community founded on the appreciation of pre-revolutionary Persian fashion, music, and for the Iranian diaspora to bond over personal, shared histories. When I started this venture, I was working a 9-5 job and feeling an increasing need for a creative outlet. In attempting to create a logo for Vintage Persia I explored digital art, which gave rise to my very first collage. Soon after, I was spending hours each night cutting and pasting photographs and textures together that consisted of various Persian pop culture influences and styles. These collages have come together to form my project PsychPersia (Instagram: @psychpersia). Since this journey began, I have collaborated with photographers, curators, musicians, and other creatives in the Middle Eastern/North African art community in order to create and share ideas. I am most excited about my new project. I am building an online shop, where I will sell art, fashion, Persian records, and other items inspired by my love for all things Middle Eastern and funky. I’m hoping to launch it by the Fall of 2020.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would make sure to pop into Folk Arts Rare Records or Vinyl Junkies to dig through their collections. It’s so fun diving into treasure troves of music with friends! As far as food is concerned, there is an amazing food truck around the corner from my apartment – La Reyna Del Sur Mariscos. They have incredible octopus tacos and ceviche. During their stay, I’d also ensure my buddy gets to try Isakaya Masa, The Taco Stand, and of course Sadaf for the absolute best vegetarian Persian food. We’d catch a show at Soda Bar, have cocktails at Sycamore Den, and take to the dance floor at Whistle Stop. I also love skating with my girlfriends at Skateworld, getting dolled up for rooftop cocktails at Born & Raised, and catching some art outside at Park and Rec (during their Art & Rec nights) on a warm summer night. Finally, since my visitors are typically not from California, we would need to hit up the beach at some point and catch one of those stunning, bright pink San Diego sunsets.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Jiyan Zand of @LocalBrownBaby ! (Her personal instagram is @jilazand). She is a local photographer and artist and all around baddie! <3