We had the good fortune of connecting with Mitra Kamali and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mitra, what matters most to you?
I discovered that for me Art is a way that brings humanity closer and “Without Art, Life is Lifeless” While seeking the path to unite people through art, integrity, love, justice for all plays an important role. It matters not to sell one’s soul for furthering a position or advancing career. It matters to make a difference toward wellbeing of others and collectively bringing peace to self, community and the world. It matters to celebrate beauty and differences among cultures and bring laughter, fun, fashion and food to the community. My career experience as an engineer and creative person proves to me that once a dream is defined clearly in mind and soul, it can be realized. As a visual story teller, my artwork depicts human relations in all forms, some impressionistic realism and some in more abstract manner. I capture human essence in my artwork and art wear that is the result of my global travels and interaction with people. The humane message given in the following poem by “Saadi” (Persia, 13th century) is carved in my mind since childhood: “Human beings are member of a whole, In creation of one essence and soul If one member afflicted by pain, Other members uneasy will remain. If you have no empathy for human pain, The name “Human” you may not retain”
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I enjoy putting my creativity into a variety of artistic expressions, “Sky is the Limit”. Approaching fashion design in my last exhibition made me excited to follow up one of the desires I had since childhood. I used to create something new out of found objects, reform a table cloth into a fancy skirt. It is fun playing dress up. As a young girl, I used to spend hours in putting colorful scarves, shawls, sheets with beads and silk flowers together to make unusual outfits. I remember as a teenager, I designed my outfits and my mother sewed them for me without using any pattern. I was honored to be selected to display at “In Celebration of Women” at Herberger Theatre as one of the 30 Arizona female artists featured curated by Paula Cullison. Portrait of “Forough” Persian universal poet/activist was selected for this exhibition. And I wanted to have fashion included in this show, So I ordered the fabric and located few models. After I designed the clothes, I checked with the out of the box thinker, curator Paula Cullison and it was agreed to move on. At the opening for this exhibition in March 2020, I had designed three outfits showing larger than life images of “Forough” on their fabric. It was an amazing experience as the models were transformed into walking paintings of Forough. On another fashion project a simple white dress was made out of painter’s disposable fabric, I planned a painting project for the children to draw the subject of their choice on the fabric. They loved using provided magic markers and created amazing stories on the white dress. For the last few months with Covid-19 quarantine, I have been teaching drawing by making short sketch videos sponsored by Arizona Persian Cultural Center that is available to all. I was thrilled to have my paintings “Water-Crisis diptych” selected and exhibited at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Museum in 2019 as it was a way to inform air travelers about shortage of water in Arizona. Three abstract works were selected by Artlink-Phoenix jurors at Portland on the Park Art Collection Exhibitions 2019 and 2020. Herberger Theatre featured my figurative/portrait art works for three exhibitions in 2020, “In the Spot,” “Candid” and “In Celebration Of Women” in honor of 100th year anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The later exhibition will travel to be on display at Capital Museum in Phoenix ( Exhibition dates to be announced later due to Covid-19). Postpone to 2021 due to the epidemic are exhibitions at Udinotti Museum of Figurative Art in Paradise Valley, Arizona and Olney Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona. I received a Bachelor degree in Science Petroleum Engineering at Louisiana State University in 1981. Later I attended Scottsdale Community College and Phoenix College including art and cultural exchange work shops in India, Japan, France and Greece.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many amazing visiting places near Scottsdale where I live. I would recommend the friend to make sure to visit between the months of October and April to enjoy the weather and outside activities in Phoenix area. Early morning I would take the friend to McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trail ( Lost Dog Wash Trail to Ringtail Loop 4.4 miles). Breakfast/brunch at Lucy’s Grove on Hayden Road. For dinner I recommend Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, that brings New Orleans to the desert with Cajun touch and music- Must visit Heard Museum and Desert Botanical Garden, Camelback Mountain, Downtown Scottsdale and Phoenix Art Museum.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am always honored and thankful to work, exhibit and help others realize their dreams through “Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC) of Arizona” . I have held cultural talks and exhibitions numerously at ASU West and ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism through CAC. I would like to dedicate a shout out to Cultural Arts Coalition of Arizona (CAC) that was founded in 2005, a non-profit arts and human rights organization which supports & promotes numerous educational activities and exhibitions through educational curriculum. These lessons honor native languages, storytelling and rituals. The activities also incorporate the art history of many diverse cultures and their dance and music. In this context, the arts are not solely aesthetic forms, but are intended to invite each of us to the center of our own experiences of discovery and interpretation, engaging public dialogue around issues of shared community concerns. Please view the 2 documentation web sites of recent programming with High School and college students… http://artsCARE.org/cac.event.cb.shtml http://artsCARE.org/cac.event.ca.shtml
Instagram: Mitra Kamali Artist
Facebook: Mitra Kamali FineArtist
Other: “Sketch with Mitra” Youtube educational series weekly program after COVID