"Local Not Local" Exhibits Arab & Iranian California Designers-Artists

From a design perspective, what do we really know about the Arab world, or Iraq's neighbor, Iran? A window into these cultures, which use the Arabic script for writing and design, will open here in Los Angeles on June 26, 2014, when LOCAL NOT LOCAL, a modern collection of contemporary expression, brings Arabic and Iranian typography and calligraphy to the Inside/Outside Gallery at the Levantine Cultural Center.

These days it seems like everyone's got a favorite font and a philosophy of typography. But it's not just our Roman alphabet that gets translated into different shapes - all over the world, designers pick and choose scripts to suit the occasion. In LOCAL NOT LOCAL, co-curators Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi present a collection of award-winning Arab and Iranian designers who demonstrate the creative possibilities and expressions that lurk in their native alphabets.

Co-curator Maece Seirafi is a Syrian American designer/artist and her colleague, Iranian American Pouya Jahanshahi, currently holds the cross-cultural chair at the Orange County American Institute of Graphic Arts. The artists who share their bilingual/bicultural visions are Ebrahim Poustinchi, winner of the Mohsen Rasoulof award at the Tassvir Visual Arts Festival, in Iran; Milka Broukhim, honored by the Digital Media Film Festival and the International Association of Business Communicators ACE Award; Kourosh Beigpour, whose typography and design have been published in more than 30 countries; Lebanese sculptor Reem Hammad; Saudi artist/graphic designer Yusef Al-Ahmad; and Iranian American designers Sam Anvari, Paymon Pojhan and Shilla Shakoori.

The designers of LOCAL NOT LOCAL come from all over the Middle East but now base themselves in California. They manage to find a unique synthesis between their native and adopted cultures, and with each other, expressed through the creative application of language. Arabic and Iranian typography is alive and well, relevant even in the United States, as these artists prove when they share their commission work or personal projects. From bringing ancient calligraphy into the modern world, to linking Western and Eastern design practices, LOCAL NOT LOCAL is an exhibit guaranteed to shake up what you think you know about Middle Eastern art, and where - and when - it belongs. The Arab and Iranian Californian artists of LOCAL NOT LOCAL challenge traditional ideas of nationality and language through dazzling integration of script and imagery, color and meaning.

WHAT: LOCAL NOT LOCAL, Inside/Outside Gallery, June 26-Aug 29, 2014
Reception: Thursday, June 26, 6:00pm-10:00 pm. Regular gallery hours M-F, 10 am - 6 pm.
WHERE: Levantine Cultural Center, 5998 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035-2657
Tel: 310.657.5511. Visit levantinecenter.org for info.



Co-curator Maece Seirafi is a visual designer focusing on typography, lettering, and illustration based in Los Angeles. Born in San Francisco, Maece grew up in Damascus, Syria where most of her love of letterforms, art, poetry and calligraphy was cultivated. In 2005 she graduated from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles with a BFA in Communication Arts. Arabic calligraphy and Latin letterforms were a strong central theme throughout her work at Otis. After an extensive Type Design class with the type designer Leah Hoffmitz, bilingual identities in typography furthered her interest to pursue her MFA at the Graphic Design program at the California Institute of the Arts in 2007.

She studied under the guidance of several talented design visionaries such as Louise Sandhaus, Lorraine Wild, Ed Fella, Michael Worthington, and Jefferey Keedy. Maece continues to explore the nuances of Latin and non-Latin typography and how bilingual identities could be further developed into various cultural projects.

Co-curator Pouya Jahanshahi is currently Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University of Graphic Design at Oklahoma State University. He received his MFA in Graphic design and Integrated Media, from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where his research focused on the global development of what he calls "Hybrid Visual Cultures", where cross-pollination of cultures have resulted in the birth of new visual realms and typographic forms. His M.A. research " Anatomy of a visual message" explored the realm of semiotics and the process of visual communication. He has presented on such related issues internationally including ATypI and IGDS (Iranian Graphic Design Society) amongst others.

In addition to being awarded numerous awards and accolades, he currently holds the cross-cultural chair at the Orange County AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts. Mr. Jahanshahi is also a member of IGDS (Iranian Graphic Design Society), staying active in issues involving design and academia on both sides of the globe. While his clientele spans the globe, as principal owner of XpatStudio (Irvine) Mr. Jahanshahi volunteers at the Braille Institute, in addition to pursuing his hobbies of Persian calligraphy, silk-screening and concrete poetry.


Kourosh Beigpour
Kourosh was born in Iran where he obtained an MFA in International Contemporary Art and Design. He moved to the United States in 2012 and established K-B Studio where he has been very busy. Koroush's use of typography and graphic design have been published in more than 30 countries around the globe. He is especially interested in Persian typography and identity design where he uses illustration backgrounds to create those eye-catching works of art that stand out and ultimately show his love and appreciation for millennia-old Persian art and culture.

Milka Broukhim
Born in Iran and raised in California, Milka Broukhim is a visual communication artist/designer and a university professor with a long list of awards and recognitions. She obtained an MFA in Communications New Media Design at Art Center College of Design with an award-winning thesis focusing on typography and motion called "Kinematic Typography". Broukhim got her BA in Design and Fine Arts from UCLA. She has been on the faculty of Art Center College of Design, Otis College of Art and Design, UCLA School of Design|Media|Art, as well as at Loyola Marymount University. Her work has been showcased at various symposiums, recognized as the "most amazing work that has been created in this phenomenal product" by After Effects Film Festival. Ms. Broukhim has been a featured speaker at Type conferences, with work published and showcased in galleries such as Art Center College of Design Gallery, Kellogg University Art Gallery in Pomona, and Metro Gallery in Pasadena. She is the honorary winner of the Digital Media Film Festival for "Space," an experimental typographic motion design, and the International Association of Business Communicators ACE Awards. Her work has been published at "In Your Face Too! More of the Best Interactive Interface Designs."

Reem Hammad
Lebanese American ceramic artist Reem Hammad delights in the simplicity and the flexibility of this ancient and most basic medium. She says, "I am always learning and exploring the endless possibilities of working with clay. Whether it is sculptural, decorative or functional designs, my focus in ceramics has been centered round creating aesthetically balanced and eye-catching designs that speak with the viewer, tell their story, or weave together past and present experiences. Balance is what I seek to achieve in both the form and the design."Clay is a beautiful medium that allows me to play, meditate, transform, and journey into my spiritual. Through it, I find inner peace and working with it, I feel connected to the earth's wisdom and the ancient songs that are carried along in its formation."

Shilla Shakoori
Shilla Shakoori got her BA in Graphic Design from Azad University of Art & Architecture. She went to the U.S. to pursue her MFA in Graphic Design from California State University of Northridge. Cutting canvas, a simple material with its mysterious whiteness, a blank slate open to all possibilities, along with hand stitching in a soothing, meditative way, allows a moment for her to ponder, finding a way to overcome the obstacles that forestall self-expressing.

Yusef Al-Ahmad
Yusef is a graphic designer/artist from Saudi Arabia. He attained a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Fine Arts from Arlington, Virginia. He later relocated to the Bay Area to pursue an MFA degree in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art, University in San Francisco. Yusef has a passion for Arabic typography, colors, and patterns. He enjoys working with traditional elements designed in a non-traditional way.

Sam Anvari
Has an MFA in Graphic Design with 15 years of direct hands-on experience in graphic and web/mobile design practice. Anvari also has a background in electronic engineering, the major of his undergrad studies in the ‘90s. Crossing over to design from mathematics and engineering has given him the ability to look at his clients' communication challenges from a higher perspective as it gives him an edge to stay current in his profession. Anvari views graphic design as a hybrid between "System Engineering" and "Art" plus "Linguistics" with the goal to establish clear and universally understandable communication with the target audience.

Ebrahim Poustinchi
Ebrahim holds a BA of Architecture from the University of Tehran, Faculty of Fine Arts, 2012. He started his professional career as a graphic designer and art director for different cultural events such as concerts, festivals and lectures. In Ebrahim's works, Persian type is used as a design tool, discovering new artistic visions while having the roots in tradition.

His works have been exhibited in several national and international festivals such as 8th Trnava International Poster Triennial, Slovakia, 4th Fadjr International Festival of Visual Arts, 9th and 10th Tassvir (image of the year) Visual Arts Festival, where he won the "Mohsen Rasoulof" award as the best under 25 years Graphic Designer in Iran, 2012.

Ebrahim has also designed for several international festivals in Iran and was art director and designer for the 28th Fajr International Music Festival Publications. He is now completing his post graduate studies at UCLA, Los Angeles.

Paymon Pojhan
Peyman is an artist and sculptor who was born in Mashhad, Iran in 1976. He started his studies in civil engineering in 1996. By 1999 he was already well known for his work and as getting requests from city halls to build sculptures in public spaces. In 2001 he obtained his BS in Civil Engineering. Peyman blends his engineering skills and artistic capabilities to build his own unique sculptures. His hands and mind together can create the unbelievable. He has worked with a variety of materials and is an expert in a wide range of techniques. By 2005 he had built more than 20 large-scale sculptures in major cities of Iran. In 2006 he held two solo galleries, one in Sa'd Abad palace of Tehran and another in the Mexican embassy of Iran, introducing Mexican culture to the Iranians. Peyman has worked with Parvis Tanavoli and has been privileged by Tanavoli's guidance.

In 2007 love not only brought him to Los Angeles, it put a great influence on his work as well. In addition to living in a diverse city such as Los Angeles has further broadened his view. In September 2008 he presented his piece "love" in Las Vegas ArtExpo. The technique and usage of Persian calligraphy with its curvaceous characteristic to create a surprisingly strong form and composition is very rewarding. Creating 3-dimensional art is taking risks by defining something original from ones perspective and skill. "Sculpting is both my passion and my lifeline."

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