Medieval Medicinal Botany, Silhouette Installations, 2017-2020
Suspended Healing Garden, 2019
Cutout-papers, printed text, threads and rods, 5 feet x15 feet x 16 in
Installation view at Root Division, SF, CA, 2019
Suspended Healing Garden evokes memories from my upbringing in the city of Shiraz, Iran, known for its herbal medicine tradition. As a child, I spent ample time browsing through the traditional drugstores in Shiraz with my grandmother who firmly believed in the healing power of herbal medicine for all kinds of minor physical and emotional ailments. The plants in Suspended Healing Garden are modeled after medicinal plants depicted in the twelfth-century Arabic botanical manuscript the Herbal of Al-Ghafiqi. The inverted portrayal of plants is a metaphor for my life as an immigrant; once uprooted, life becomes suspended and things turn upside-down. It takes years to adjust and heal.
Suspended Healing Garden, detail
Suspended Healing Garden, detail
SFMOMA Artists Gallery & Euphrat Museum of Art
Shifting Horizon is an installation of medicinal plants on the wall, composed of various kinds and sizes. The plants’ silhouettes are drafted after the original images in The Herbal manuscript, which was composed by the 12th-century Andalusian physician al-Ghafiqi. This is one of the most remarkable medieval botanical manuscripts on medicinal plants, their names, their visuals, and their healing properties.
Shifting Horizon is both the study of medicinal plants and cultural expression. It is a symbolic representation of the relationship between humans and the natural world and the potential, maintaining this relationship, may present. Such a fascination with the power of herbal medicine has its roots in medieval medical practices that placed great emphasis on the benefits of nature. By contrast, in our modern world, we mainly rely on chemically manufactured substances. The installation uses broken lines to represent our “shifting horizon” and perspective towards nature; plants are represented in black as a metaphor for the dwindling relationship between humans and nature.
Shifting Horizon, 2017-2020 wood, paint, vinyl, and screws, 4 x 10 feet
Plants include asparagus, buttercup, spelt, viola, chamomile, cucumber, cinquefoil, and houseleek
Installation view at SFMOMA Artists Gallery, The Fort Mason Center, 2020
Shifting Horizon, installation view at SFMOMA Artists Gallery, The Fort Mason Center, CA, 2020
Shifting Horizon, laser-cut wood and screws, 2017, 10 x 4 feet
Installation view at Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College, CA, 2017
Shifting Horizon, detail
The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi manuscript was composed by the 12th-century Andalusian physician and scholar Abu Ja`far al-Ghafiqi. This is one of the most remarkable medieval botanical manuscripts on medicinal plants, their names, their visuals, and their healing properties. Medieval societies and medical practitioners had a great appreciation for the benefits of nature, specifically those plants that prevented or treated ailments. In medieval palaces such as Alhambra in Andalusia, gardens of medicinal plants were created and the benefits of plants were carefully recorded in manuscripts.
Pages of Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Manuscript in Arabic, written by Abu Ja`far al-Ghafiqi, 12th c., Andalusia