art ~ spirit ~ transformation
e*lix*ir

e*lix*ir   #12
Ridvan 2021
Art
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Editorial

The Intimacy of Art

The Writing Life

‘I Go to Paper’: A Conversation with Ruth Forman by Andréana Elise

Poetry

Anthony A. Lee

Translations

“If I Should Gaze Upon Your Face” by Tahirih
Chinese translation by Zijing Pan DiCenzo

Essays

In the Noble, Sacred Place: One Rainy Day in a Holy City by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

Interviews

Anne Gordon Perry on Writing for Film

Personal Reflections on Bahá’í Texts

O Nightingales of God! by James Braun

Artist Profile

Benjamin Hatcher, Dancer by Joyce Litoff

Art

Nadema Agard
Beth Yazhari

Comic

Ruhi & Riaz by Solmaz Haghighat

Voices of Iran

The Cherry Orchard by Paria Bakhshi
A Wedding in Prison by Melika Rezvani

Looking Back on Books

In the Eyes of His Beloved Servants: The Story Behind the Stories by J. Michael Kafes
How One Jewish Woman Poet Remade the Wor(l)d: Alicia Ostriker’s The Little Space: Poems Selected and New (1989-1996) by Sandra Lynn Hutchison


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BETH YAZHARI

Art


The Sun of Craftsmanship
Acrylic on canvas with vintage textiles from India, Iran, U.S., Uzbekistan
40" x 40"

The Sun of Craftsmanship juxtaposes collaged textile fragments from India, Uzbekistan and Iran with vintage textiles from America: crewel embroidery, intricate lace, and quilt fabric that belonged to my grandmother. Its themes of elevating traditional crafts and honoring women’s work are common to many of my pieces, and the painted “stitches” that cover the entire painting help blur the line between paint and embroidery by creating a trompe l’oeil effect.



Global Heritage, 2020
Acrylic on canvas with textiles and beads
48" x 48"

This beaded painting features textiles and artifacts from 19 countries and is a symbolic of the union of East and West, in particular the Persian and Norwegian heritages of the married couple who commissioned it. A Native American-made silver and turquoise nine-pointed star at the very center of the painting draws attention to the creative contributions of the original inhabitants of our country.



Daystar, 2019
Acrylic on canvas with vintage beads and fabrics from Czech Republic, Germany, India, Italy, and the U.S.
18" x 18"

This piece was created in honor of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb in 2019. It features an embellished nine-pointed star, a Bahá’í symbol associated with perfection and unity. It also combines vintage beads and fabrics from a number of cultures, including the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Italy and the U.S. The butterflies in the corners have been adorned with intricate beadwork and collaged onto painted fragments of a vintage handkerchief, which symbolizes the exaltation of handiwork traditionally done by women. The ornate gold frame has been hand painted with turquoise in order to complement the piece, much as the border of a Persian carpet accentuates its center.



Radiant Orb #1, 2021
Acrylic on canvas
24" x 24"

This piece developed in multiple distinct layers and stages — it started very loose, with dramatic brushstrokes and drips of paint, and ultimately evolved into a more serene painting, with thousands of tiny strokes of paint forming the final layer. Underneath the top layer of radiating circles of “stitches” is a grid of bold cursive loops that references both creative expression via written language and threads being woven together in a lacy pattern. Over that is a subtle “pineapple” lace doily pattern layer created by spray-painting through a vintage crocheted tablecloth. In creating works that have many semi-obscured layers and that reference textile techniques as well as paint, I am alluding to women’s traditional roles and work. Female energies and capacities that have been historically constrained are represented here by a glowing orb of light, piercing veils of tradition as it expands.



Tree of Life with Nine-Pointed Stars, 2021
Acrylic on canvas with antique beads from Italy and Afghanistan, vintage Native American beadwork, sari fabric
12" x 24"

This mixed-media beaded painting inspired by Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste incorporates thousands of tiny antique beads made in Italy and strung 100 years ago by Native American artisans. The central tree of life represents people from all backgrounds, particularly those historically regarded as “lower caste,” contributing their diverse voices to the creation of a just society. The composition honors the creativity of traditionally oppressed populations, including African-Americans, Native Americans, and female artisans from India. This is symbolized by the painting's overall design, which features African-American quilt and Navajo design elements, pieces of hand-stitched sari fabric from rural India, and vintage Native American nine-pointed star medallions. The nine-pointed star symbolizes unity in both the Navajo tradition and the Bahá’í Faith.



Gracious Bestowals, 2019
Acrylic on canvas with antique lace, Chinese embroidery, beadwork
24" x 24"

This piece was created in honor of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb in 2019. Its theme of East and West coming together is illustrated by the juxtaposition of American and European elements, including fragments of a Victorian era veil and metallic lace from the 1700s, with a central Chinese cloud-inspired form and an antique Chinese embroidered bat symbolizing good fortune. The embroidered butterflies from China symbolize metamorphosis and taking flight, souls ascending to the heavenly plane.



Remembrance of Lua, 2018
Acrylic on canvas with antique beads
20" x 20"

This piece was inspired by Lua Getsinger, who was one of the first western Bahá’ís and was given the name “Herald of the Covenant” by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The body and wings of the large butterfly are adorned with rose quartz beads, vintage earrings, and tiny antique Tasmanian aboriginal shells. The dramatic background design includes Chinese cloud motifs and delicate lace from a Victorian era veil.



Cloudbreak , 2017
Acrylic on canvas with collaged vintage lace
40" x 40"

Acrylic painting with fragments of painstakingly handmade antique lace — a symbolic reference to the efforts of women throughout history to break through societal constraints, just as light struggles to break through dense clouds.



Potentialities of Paper: Tribute to Adelaide, 2016
Acrylic on wood panel with quilled paper, origami, papier-mâché
16" x 20"

Mixed media collage on wood panel: acrylic paint, antique quilled paper fan, vintage origami paper crane, fiber paste, Ugandan fair-trade paper beads, and gilded papier-mâché beads recycled from vintage jewelry.

 


Beth Yahari
Artist Statement:   Mixed media painter Beth Yazhari collects delicate fragments of antique lace and embroidery from different cultures and combines them into intricate compositions that reference both East and West. By rescuing discarded doilies and pieces of folk embroidery and recycling them into her beaded paintings, she intentionally collaborates with the creative spirit of women of the past. Her globally inspired pieces, with their rich detail and intricate symmetry, are sometimes compared to Persian carpets. Yazhari is drawn to themes of spirituality and social justice, and she often incorporates symbols and designs from various faith traditions in her paintings.
Bio:   Beth Yazhari has lived and created art near Portland, Oregon for nearly 19 years. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998. Initially focused on painting, Yazhari also became interested in fiber arts, not only for their aesthetic value but because they allowed her to explore traditionally underappreciated media that were associated with “women’s work,” as opposed to the “high art” of painting on canvas. Much of her work has sought to challenge this arbitrary distinction between “high” and “low” art by taking beautiful discarded pieces of lace, doilies, and other fabrics that have been created by anonymous women from the past and incorporating them into works of art created on canvas for the purpose of being hung, as a painting would be, on a wall.