Medieval Medicinal Botany, Silhouette Installations

Suspended Healing Garden, 2019

Installation at Root Division, San Francisco, CA

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 12th c. 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.

Shifting Horizon, 2017

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, one of the most remarkable medieval botanical manuscripts, composed by the 12th c. Andalusian physician al-Ghafiqi.

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 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 toward nature; plants are represented in black as a metaphor for the dwindling relationship between humans and nature.

The work is in the YouTube collection, SF Bay Area, CA, 2023.