Entrepreneurial Artist — Ghazaleh Keshavarz

Photo of Glass, Oil and Blood by Cathrine Borg

Ghazaleh Keshavarz Artist’s Talk “Naftoon” features a thesis exhibition of multimedia instillation artwork titled Glass, Oil, and Blood. Her works talk about the oil industry and how it relates to and has shaped Iranian society since it’s discovery in the early 1900s, to the 1950s when it was nationalized, and now how it still effects modern-day Iran. Ghazaleh Keshavarz explores the topic using symbolism of oil, water, and time, themes of humanity versus nature, and with a message of activism by incorporating the voices of other artists on the topic of Iran’s dependence on oil in the face of censorship by the Iranian government.

Keshavarz embodies the entrepreneurial spirit with her dedication to her cause, her ability to create new goals for herself as an artist, pursue and obtain the resources needed to reach her goal, and to spearhead how her artwork would be both create and displayed for the public. Her work as an artist and her creative process of learning how to work with the materials she choose to use displayed by her development of a way to bring those materials together into an exhibition also display her tenacity and innovation, and break ground for her craft of using oil as installation art.

We see Keshavarz’s creative process from her background and identity as an Iranian immigrant, her journey into the arts from photography, to animation and then instillation which are all represented in her exhibition, and how she came to put these ideas together in order to bring her artwork to life and share a new narrative in a way that the audience can be educated about and relate to. What I learned from her experiences are things that I learned I could also incorporate into future projects: while being an artist concentrated her artistic journey helped me to see how an artist can create a body of work that incorporates different mediums, not only specify in one.

As an entrepreneur and an artist Ghazaleh Keshavarz’s goal is to use her voice to spread a message about how Iran is dependent on the oil industry, and the narrative of how oil came to be discovered, how it was an important symbol in Iranian culture, and how it continues to shape Iran’s society were all things she taught through her artwork and lecture. Through the lecture the audience learns about how identity, language, and culture all fit into the narrative of Iran being a center for the oil industry, and displays a social issue within the country with the inclusion of voices of people who are against Iran’s depended on oil export because of the industry’s effects on the livelihood of Iran’s citizens. By fulfilling this goal, Ghazaleh Keshavarz is not only an artist but also an entrepreneur.