Kimia Ferdowsi Kline: An Enchanting Love Letter to Her Iranian Heritage
Kimia Ferdowsi Kline's second solo exhibit, Landscapes for the Hungry, is currently on view at Turn Gallery in the East Village, New York. Kline, an American of Iranian descent, is a Brooklyn-based artist who also serves as the in-house curator of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This has been a banner year for Kline, in addition to this second exhibition, she was recently selected as a semi-finalist for the Basil H. Alkazzi Award for Excellence and was also chosen as the Basil Alkazzi Artist in Residence for a five-week residency at Wayne State University in Detroit, ending October 21, 2015. The residency will result in a solo show set for Spring 2016.
In Landscapes for the Hungry, a series of beautifully imagined dreamscapes of her family's homeland, Kline conjures up a fantastical shangri-la and pays homage to her Iranian ancestry in the process. The show is comprised of about sixteen works, all executed in oil, and ranging from smaller works on paper to larger canvases. Kline's family trajectory and their journey to the US is absolutely inspiring and courageous. Her grandfather, an affluent resident of Tehran, part of a religious minority in Iran, was persecuted for his Baha'i beliefs during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and tragically executed in 1982. The entire family was uprooted and subsequently fled to the US immediately. Born in 1984 and raised in Nashville, TN, Kline gravitated to the arts at a very young age. Receiving encouragement from her high school art teacher, Kline pursued painting as an undergrad and now holds a BFA and MFA, respectively, from Washington University and the San Francisco Art Institute.
In this second exhibition, Kline continues with the motif of barely dressed women and strongly illustrates an intimate relationship between the female and nature. In Homeland and The Silk Road, both oil on paper, delicate waifs commune with nature, ensconced by lush vegetation, and enhanced with a pastel-colored palette. In other works such as Nomad and I Come Bearing Mangos, also both oil on panel, Kline recreates her father's childhood garden crafted from family photos, her imagination and images on Instagram by Iranian photographers. These idyllic settings are both serene and bountiful, mentally soothing and offer a visually inviting element to the viewer. There is also a deep sense of nomadism present in Kline's pieces, but the feeling of displacement isn't unsettling, it's comforting and ebullient. Kline's life is full of incredibly rich life experiences - born in the American South, studied on the West Coast, lives in the Northeast, has visited thirty countries, including an eight-month artist residency in India - all of which has resulted in impacting her work monumentally and provides weighty substance. The show is a charming, endearing love letter to her ancestors and through her artistic efforts helps transform the Western view of the much demonized Middle East. Landscapes for the Hungry will be on view through October 16 at Turn Gallery.