Centrum Emerging Artist: Frankie Krupa-Vahdani

Frankie Krupa-Vahdani is one of the inaugral artists selected as part of Centrum’s new Emerging Artist Residency Program.

Along with the other awardees, Krupa-Vahdani is in-residence at Fort Worden in October 2014, exploring a search for identity and place-whether challenging gender status, understanding issues of personal identity specific to culture or religious values, or challenging traditional power structures.

KrupaVahdani-artFrankie’s work explores her Polish/Iranian heritage through photographs, investigating heritage and how that relates to personal identity. She uses the camera as a tool to document this exploration in her personal spaces and among her personal items.

Recent Exhibitions

  • Fast Forward: Rite of Passage, Western Gallery, Bellingham, WA, May 28-June 14, 2014
  • Beyond Borders, Juried Group Exhibition, WWU Viking Union Gallery, Bellingham, WA, 2014
  • Vanity, Curated Group Exhibition by Robin Jones, B-Gallery, Bellingham, WA, March 10-14, 2014
  • Blue Sky’s Pacific Northwest Photography Viewing Drawers, Portland, Oregon, Juried Selection, 2014

Using found patterns, vibrant colors and traditional Iranian objects, Frankie’s exploration of personal history, gender, and cultural identity comes from a disconnect Frankie found between her personal identity and heritage. She is half Iranian and half Polish. These two components are important to her and yet seem distant.

I wanted to begin this exploration with the side of my family that I feel more a disconnect with. I have grown up with very strong Iranian influences and yet that side feels so alien.

On Frankie’s fathers side of the family it is common to keep personal experiences to one’s self. Starting a dialogue about personal family stories did not seem to her to be the best way to go about it. She turned to history and the experiences of other important Iranian figures. Reading these things was fascinating but she came to realize this was not what she was looking for.

It is one thing to know a countries history and struggles, but another to know what it means to be of that culture and place. How do I deal with something that is part of me and not at the same time?

Frankie found that even though she did not have stories or close family relationships to connect her to her heritage, she does have objects that have been handed down to her. These traditional Iranian artifacts are how Frankie relates to her “Iranian-ness” now. Frankie has begun to photograph herself and her family in personal spaces and among the items that she finds her culture in.

Through these material objects she has begun to explore her roots.

Knowing my history does not mean knowing my heritage. Through this body of work I hope to better understand what it means to be first generation American.

Frankie Krupa-Vahdani and her fellow Residents will exhibit work at Port Townsend’s Gallery Walk in November at The Cotton Building in downtown Port Townsend. The Gallery Walk occurs from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 1, 2014.

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