Art department collaborates with Kaleidoscope to bring in Iranian guest speaker

Published by adviser, Author: Emma Pfeifer - Assistant Campus Life Editor, Date: April 28, 2016
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Slippery Rock’s Art Department teamed up with the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival to bring in an Iranian guest speaker to talk about women’s roles in art, education and politics in Iran on Monday in Vincent Science Center.

Soude Dadras is an art scholar currently researching the history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, said Kate Fitzgerald, senior art major and vice president of the Art Society.

Dadras came to Slippery Rock to speak about her experiences and her research that she has experienced so far, Fitzgerald said.

“The main goal of bringing Soude to campus for us was to create an interdisciplinary space where this speaker would come but also touch so many other departments while speaking,” Fitzgerald said.

Dadras talked about a variety of topics throughout her discussion including women in modern art and the limitation of freedom in Iran.

One big topic Dadras touched upon was the movement where Iranian women were taking off their hijabs, letting their hair down and taking pictures of their hair down and uncovered.

In Iran, it is punishable by law for a woman to show her hair, Dadras said. 3.6 million women were either arrested or fined last year for showing their hair in Iran.

This active, rebellious movement is currently a big issue of discussion for the Iranian people, Dadras said.

Another topic Dadras discussed was the fact that there are limitations to how women artists can showcase their work, Fitzgerald said. In Iran, it is much harder to express yourself and be a female artist.

“Because social media and the internet have changed everything, Iranian women artists are becoming more creative on how to show their work,” Dadras said.

Fitzgerald said that it was interesting how Dadras talked about the limitations of female artists because that issue is relevant to issues in the U.S.

In the U.S., women and men are still not equal, and in the art world, men are featured more than women. Fitzgerald said that they brought Dadras here because it would be an event where it would touch other departments and be attractive to all majors such as political science, gender studies, modern art and more.

Another good reason why Dadras came was that a lot of Americans have skewed views of what the Middle East is like and what differences in freedoms there are, Fitzgerald said.

Because of the limitations that people in Iran have, when they come to the U.S., it is almost like they are bombarded with all these freedoms, and that in a way it is almost too much, Fitzgerald said.

It is an event like this that helps students grow and realize how many connections there are throughout different areas of the world, Fitzgerald said. A person can connect to anything and having an event like this, where people find that sense of connection in the world, helps students experience and gain a better understanding of that.

Fitzgerald emailed back and forth with Dadras for months discussing her availability and when would be the best time to come to Slippery Rock.

Dadras was originally supposed to come in the fall but she ended up coming in the spring because they figured that what she was speaking about was bigger than just the art department, and collaborating with Kaleidoscope helped make the event even bigger and better, Fitzgerald said.

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