BY JANIS HASHE, December 2019
The swirling threads of culture, fashion, and family are all woven together in different embodiments in the work of painter and mixed-media artist Aram Amini. The Iranian-American artist, whose work is in multiple private collections, is self-taught but learned many techniques from her father, a jewelry designer.
“I spent a great deal of time practicing sketching, and I also watched many how-to videos by other artists. I’m still learning every day, and I can see how that results in my work evolving over time,” said Montreal-born Amini, who recently had a successful event at The Pershing in Austin, TX, in collaboration with designer Jaimie Anand.
Amini’s mixed-media works utilize an esoteric set of textures and materials, including jewels, rose petals, and Swarovski crystals embedded in the works’ surfaces under resin. At the recent Artexpo New York, her “Vogue” collection, a series of pieces created in collaboration with her father, featured female images with drinks in hand, in keeping with the “Cocktail d’Ete” theme of the exhibit.
“The entire campaign had a large focus on jewelry,” Amini said. “I wanted to bring that focus to life on canvas. I purposely chose a canvas size that would allow me to use my father’s jewelry to scale on each of the ‘Vogue’ ladies. The jewelry not only added another dimension, but it also gave the entire collection meaning by allowing me to bring my and my father’s work together in one.”
The stylized images of high-fashion women, each wearing a hat and holding their special cocktail, evoke a sophisticated, glamorous era, as the jewels draw the eye, sparkling. In fact, Amini finds inspiration in fashion magazines, runway shows, textiles and fabrics of all kinds. “I love prints and patterns and am constantly trying to incorporate ones I like into my work,” she said.
But portraying confident, strong women has another aspect for her. “As a female artist, I feel we aren’t recognized as often in the art world. Statistics also show that our work is valued less than male artists, and we have less representation in galleries and museums compared to male artists,” she explained. This knowledge inspires her not only to work harder to have her work seen, but also to embrace female figures in the work. “I love painting females in various styles, and portraying their beauty and strength in each piece,” Amini said.
Her cultural background also resonates here. She is well aware of the restrictions she would face if she were living in Iran, where women continue to struggle for equal rights and freedom to express themselves as they wish.
Amini’s process in creating her works is partly influenced by other artists. “I love to take a little bit from each artist I admire,” she said. When starting each new piece, she knows exactly what style she’ll choose and which colors she wants to work with. “I start small by laying down the foundation of the painting as a light sketch, then build on it little by little,” she said. “Then, depending on the piece, I can end up spending anywhere from two-to-four weeks on it.” Sometimes she’ll work for ten hours at a time, carefully constructing her vision. “Other times, I can work only in one-hour intervals. Each piece is unique in that sense,” she said.
Amini also creates abstracts, including an entire series using fabric rosebuds in elaborate, dense patterns. Many of her other abstracts evoke natural phenomena. In “Orabelle,” cloudlike images converge in a torrent of color, while in “Sahara,” shifting reds and oranges shade into yellows, suggesting the wild winds surging above the desert.
Amini is currently focusing on her abstract work, specifically large canvases. “I have lots of energy that I want to put towards free-flowing movements on canvas. I’ve been enjoying picking out certain colors, then just going with the flow of the brush, without planning out exactly what I want to create,” she said. Far from impeding her work, parenthood is proving to be a new conduit for ideas and process.
This is definitely joyful for the artist. “My daughter is turning out to be my newest form of inspiration. I’m excited to see what she brings out in my work,” she said. Which means that now, three generations of the family have become collaborators in her ongoing creative evolution. WM
Janis Hashe is a freelance journalist, covering the arts, travel, the environment, politics, and, occasionally, tea. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sunset Magazine, Monocle, and many other publications. She is the former contributing editor of Chattanooga’s alt-weekly paper, The Pulse. Her current home is Richmond, California, where she contributes frequently to the East Bay Express, Oakland Magazine, and Alameda Magazine. The Ex-Club Tong Pang, her first novel, was published in 2014.view all articles from this author