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International Day of Peace celebrated by worldwide artists at Oklahoma State University

Photo courtesy Pasaj Cultural Arts Collaborative
Posters from the "20 x 20: Posters For Peace" exhibit at the Gardiner Gallery of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater.
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STILLWATER, Okla. – The Pasaj Cultural Arts Collaborative organized a lecture and workshop to celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.  

The event is part of the current international invitational poster exhibition, 20x 20: Posters For Peace. The exhibition is on display Sept. 7-28 at the Gardiner Gallery of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater and also in the palace prison ‘Qasr’ Gallery in Tehran, Iran. In its own way, this exhibit is viewed as a bridge between two nations. 

“It is my belief that an understanding of true Iranian culture, and art and the traditions of Persians would allow any foreigner to see how Iranian are not warlike people by any means – the opposite in fact,” said Pouya Jahanshahi, an assistant professor of Graphic Design at OSU and co-founder of Pasaj Cultural Arts Collaborative.  

Zahra Pashaie, an Iranian designer, researcher and graphic design instructor and co-founder of Pasaj Cultural Arts Collaborative will start the lecture to talk about her own experiences at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 20. Then, Jahanshahi will conduct a workshop for making posters from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 21. Both events that are free and open to the public, will be held at the OSU’s Gardiner Gallery. 

Jahanshahi said the creation of Pasaj Cultural Arts Collaborative started after meeting Pashaie for his project of documentary film relating to Iranian graphic design. The two artists created the organization to stimulate similar art projects around the world in the hope to promote mutual cultural understanding and opening minds. 

“I was a 13 years old kid when I left Iran because of the Iran-Iraq war back in 1983. I know personally how war feels and I know how it makes people miserable,” Jahanshahi said. 

The first 20 posters were made by Iranian artists and the 20 others by international artists, mostly American but not only. 

Jahanshahi insisted that all the Iranian artists who made the 20 posters are internationally renowned such as Homa Delvaray and Mehdi Mahdian, saying, “they wanted to make these pieces - because they believed in the message and the cause.” 

But due to political tension between the two countries, Jahanshahi said it complicated the opportunity of students exchange and sponsoring the event. 

“The Iranian government was interested in this exhibition but because of same policy that they have here, they couldn’t support officially the city of Tehran with an exhibition that has the words ‘American design’,” Jahanshahi said, adding the OSU wasn’t allowed to pay the expense of its students to go in Iran. 

According to Jahanshahi, it didn’t stop the exhibit to have a large success in Iran with a good reception from the public and media relayed massively the event. At the opposite, the event in Stillwater attracted mostly experts in the subject and curious passing by the Gardiner Gallery said Jahanshahi. 

Jahanshahi who deeply believes that arts can influence the society by bringing people to talk about taboo subjects said no officials from Oklahoma came to see the exhibit. 

“Unfortunately, it is not something important to them,” he said, hoping that the 20x 20: Posters For Peace exhibit will be programmed in other venues.

A discussion will be organized to cloture the exhibit with Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh, a Professor of Iranian History at Northeastern Illinois University and Jahanshashi on politics, arts and peace from 12 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 28 at OSU. 

For more information follow the Pasaj Cultural Arts Collaborative on social media and the hashtag #PASAJGROUP.

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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