Material waste recycled into stark, imaginative tellings from the mind: this is the contemporary work of Iranian artist and activist Bita Masoumi. Although she received formal painting instruction from a young age, her practice took a pivotal turn after her father’s passing. At a time of shock and great loss, Masoumi embarked on a self-discovery and healing journey through creative experimentation. Brush and pencil were her weapons and the world was her battlefield. With incomparable emotional will, Masoumi found herself drawing on anything–paper cups, sandwich wrappers, in buses and taxis. While attending Savannah College of Art and Design for graphic design, she also discovered the duality in how cost-effective her practices were. Not only was the artist financially benefiting from the reuse of discarded, flattened packages and irregularly-shaped supports, such as package dielines, she was also gaining tremendous joy and inspiration. “Every piece of paper has its own unique beauty, texture, and color,” she says. “Every beautiful piece of paper in trash bins bothers me, because it's a piece stolen from nature.” Masoumi grew up in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war and even after its end, minimal resources remained and extravagance was frowned upon. Her work today comments on waste and presents her strong objection and protest to the unfortunate normality of the United States. Inclusions of eyes, lips, heavy lines and auras comprise her collection of work and also tell stories of death, life, war, sexuality, growth, pain, femininity, discrimination, and immigration.
Masoumi was raised in Tehran with her artist grandfather who studied under renowned Iranian painter, Kamal-ol-Molk; this was her first experience with painting and from which she fell in love with the artform. Masoumi currently resides in Orange, California.