Winner of the Inaugural 2018 IMDA Friends & Alumni MFA Award
Juror: Cara Ober
Parastoo Aslanbeik won the MFA Award for her mixed media installation and written thesis “Wispobish: Forest of Ghosts, Tower of Voices.”
“I believe the most precious thing about winning an award is that it makes you more determined in your life and toward your goal. This has happened to me.”
Wispobish is a powerful tree in Persian mythology. The word “Wispobish” in Persian refers to “the cure of every disease.” Simurgh, a mythical phoenix-like bird representing benevolence, is believed to nest in the Wispobish tree. In this artwork I employ the symbol of the Wispobish in response to the recent Executive Order # 13769 “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry'”that attempts to ban Iranians and other Muslims from the United States. I utilize the old photographic technique of wet-plate collodion, in combination with tree branches, to create a ghostly forest. A fragile yet monumental structure constructed from white-washed cardboard boxes is inscribed with ancient Persian poems and silhouettes of branches. Amplified from inside the tower of boxes is a soundtrack of quiet songs and mumblings in various languages. Through my artwork I hope to evoke the voices of those who have been demonized and to offer healing through collective strength.