Nina Ghanbarzadeh understands the power of words. “You can elevate someone with your words. You can crush someone with your words. Words have this great power. They are great tools,” she says.
Ghanbarzadeh is a full-time visual artist. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, she moved to the United States in 2001. Her artwork often consists of specific words and phrases written repetitively in patterns on paper. She describes these words and sentences acting as colors or elements of design in her art. “So instead of color, I use words,” Ghanbarzadeh says.
Standing back, a viewer sees a work of art hanging on a wall. Upon closer inspection, the minute words and phrases start to reveal themselves as the “brushstrokes” of the art. Ghanbarzadeh does a lot of brainstorming on how to write so specific words create movement and pattern on the paper.
Ghanbarzadeh usually writes in Farsi. “I don’t write the translations. The reason is because I borrow from Persian poetry, and when you translate poetry, the sensibility of language is being lost,” she says.
Writing, Ghanbarzadeh says, makes her feel close to her birthplace, her friends and family. It helped her settle down in the U.S. while showing the beauty of her Persian culture through her art.
Calmness and quietness is what Ghanbarzadeh wants viewers of her compositions to feel. Ghanbarzadeh says, “When they stand in front of my drawings, I want them to be able to take a deep breath and say, ‘There is something that calms me, and there is some peace in these pieces.'”