There is a story behind everything that Farnaz Shadravan does. Shadravan, who hails from Iran, brings with her art a feeling of redemption to everyday objects. It started with a refrigerator door that someone had thrown out onto the street. When she stumbled across it, Shadravan saw its potential and brought it to her dental practice in San Francisco. There, she began the first of many engravings: a prayer.
“When I was growing up, we didn’t have the habit of putting things you want to remember on the refrigerator door,” she says of Muslims in her home country. “And so I kind of had lost my faith [after she came to America], and one day I started putting things like religious images that I had from the past, I was just putting them with magnets on my refrigerator door so I could remember them all, just like old, old prayers that I used to recite.”
Since then, Shadravan has made a practice of embellishing refrigerator doors with religious symbols and messages.
Another set that Shadravan has created is entitled, “Rearranging My Furniture,” in which she literally rearranges pieces of furniture that she shared with her paramour of ten years, cutting it apart and putting it back together in a different way. Shadravan started this piece after ending that ten-year relationship. She displayed a chest of drawers at ArtMRKT, an art show in San Francisco.
“Half of it was mine, half of it was my partner’s. […] Maybe I opened those drawers a million times over […] in those ten years. And just to cut it, it’s difficult, but at the same time, I think I love art so much that whatever I do in life, I do it for the sake of art. So after it became art, it was just as if it was always this. And I’m trying to do it with the rest of my furniture. And I will feel very, very good when I am finished with everything.”
However, Shadravan’s crowning glory is the set of three bathtubs that depict the Book of Revelation in detailed and meticulously crafted engravings. Taking her 20 months to complete, these bathtubs are based on the challenges in the lives of two young boys in Tehran. Shadravan met them while they were selling poems on the street: “You close your eyes, make a wish and pick a poem from the bunch they are holding in their hands,” she describes on her website. The poem you pick is your fortune. Living a hard life with their parents displaced by the war, the boys’ story, along with their unwavering friendship, spoke to Shadravan, and she promised to tell it through her art.
“Now I need to ask you a favor,” Shadravan implores the admirer on her website. “Go to the tubs and kneel, close your eyes, now touch the water and imagine my poem sellers running through the streets of Tehran.”
Words Tessa Murphy