Martine Gaetan on Bahar Jalehmahmoudi’s Work in Midpoint

Blog Post on Midpoint: by Martine Gaetan, Stamp Gallery Staff, Class of 2015, Romance Languages

I was instantly drawn to Bahar Jalehmahmoudi’s pieces for their faint, soothing pastel colors, for the interesting use of wax over fabric, and especially, for the sense of fragility and delicacy they procure. It is definite: Bahar’s pieces represent the Woman. But not just any woman. Bahar’s artwork represents the oppressed women, the women who face day-to-day challenges in restrictive societies. From Iran, Bahar is very much influenced by her culture, by what is familiar to her. She has been inspired by women’s situation in Iran and their lack of freedom, representing the latter vis-à-vis her art.

One of her most dramatic pieces is made up of braided pantyhose individually pierced by steel rods. “The braids represent the young girls in Iran who wear their hair braided; they are a symbol of innocence,” Bahar explained during our interview together. “Their innocence is violated by piercings.”

Remain, another one of her works, is a collection of six books and a clothing line with female slips. The wax bound books have clothes-wear, including scarves and sweaters, as well as strips of Persian newspapers trapped behind the shiny scented glazes of the books’ covers. Each book and each slip represent an individual woman’s personal history. However, one cannot open the books nor can one unfold the slips, and thus one does not have access to see details of these women’s lives. “Their biographies are private.” Their lives remain a mystery to those on the outside.
Bahar’s clever artworks seem to serve as a tribute to the women of Iran and a wake-up call to Americans and to the World; we must open our eyes to see the reality of women’s struggles in our society today.

Posted by: Martine Gaetan, Stamp Gallery Staff, Class of 2015, Romance Languages

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