Today we’d like to introduce you to Haleh Fotowat.
Haleh, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I have forever been interested in looking at things either up close or from far from above. I grew up in Tehran, Iran. My dad was an agriculture engineer who worked with a lot of satellite images and I remember I loved (and still do) looking at aerial images he was working with. My mom is a botanist and I remember loving looking at the details of dried plants under the microscope when I went with her to her work. I also had a special interest in staring at things like floor tiles that had random patterns on them and in seeing faces of people or profiles of different animals.
As a teenager and during college years I took a few drawing, painting and photography classes. My main pass time, however, was playing music. I play an Iranian instrument called Kanun. Before moving to the US I was part of a 70 piece plucked instrument orchestra and we had major performances in large concert halls in Tehran.
After moving to the US to pursue my graduate studies in electrical engineering and then neuroscience I was also part of a small band and we performed regularly. During these years I only made a handful of paintings. After finishing my doctorate, I moved to Canada to pursue my postdoctoral research, and that was when I started painting a lot more. It all started with seeing patterns in random things again. I used to take a shuttle bus to the University every day. The shuttle bus was somewhat shaky, and I was not able to do anything while on it, could not read or sleep! I decided to take with me, everyday a small book of water color papers and waterproof pen, put my pen on the paper and let the shuttle draw patterns on paper! Then, every night I would go home and put paint on those patterns, and at some point, try to see if I can find faces or animals in those patterns and then actually work more to accentuate what I see, so everyone could see it!
Since then I have been painting intensively and my paintings have evolved into a more abstract style. I now prefer to allow viewers to use their own imagination to see patterns or life forms.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I enjoy creating patterns spontaneously: I first draw lines, curvy lines, jagged lines, little dots, even words. All of this I do while listening to music, mainly free jazz or improvised music. I let my hands go for it. I don’t try to control them. It’s all very free and liberating. I enjoy watching what happens. It is always a surprise! As a neuroscientist I am especially fascinated by the spontaneous brain activity that could give rise to those hand movements and patterns that I draw as a result.
Then comes the paint, mainly gouache, watercolor and ink and more recently acrylic. Choice of color is at first spontaneous, but later I decide which color I want next to which.
I love painting like this since I never know what I will get in the end. I feel like by doing this I can bring out a part of me on that day that I would have never known existed had I not painted.
I love it when people tell me about the things they see in my paintings. Since music is a big element of inspiration in my paintings, people have told me that my paintings are very musical and bursting with energy. They have also told me that the colors make them happy, this makes me so very happy as well.
How can artists connect with other artists?
When I first moved to Cambridge I searched for local artist associations and connected with Cambridge Art Association. I find this organization absolutely fantastic for connecting artists with other artists as well as local community, and providing them with opportunities for showing their work.
The city of Cambridge also provides many opportunities for artistic career development and for connecting artists with community.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I am a member of Cambridge Art Association, where I frequently show my work in one of their two galleries in Cambridge.
This summer I am very excited to be part of two events where I show and sell my work.
The first one coming up is the Kendal Discovery Market, in Kendall square in Cambridge, an event that happens every Monday from 11 am to 6 pm from June to October. I will have a table there where I will be displaying and selling my art three of those Mondays in July, September and October. You can find more details about the dates and times that I will be there on my website.
I am also excited to be part of Cambridge open Studios this year which takes place on the 29th and 30th of September. More information will be available on my website as the program becomes available.
I welcome readers to visit my website where they can see my paintings and where my contact information is available for any inquiries about them.
- Website: www.halehfotowat.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/halehfotowat/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/halehfotowatart/