Azadeh Gholizadeh Interview - The Hopper Prize

Azadeh Gholizadeh

Azadeh Gholizadeh discusses art as a way of expression, finding comfort in the process of making, the idea of borders & boundaries, & an emotional connection to belonging.

How did you get into making art?

I got into making art as a way of expression. Growing up in a country where freedom of speech is heavily censored, I found comfort in art and the process of making. In addition, I liked Persian gardens and the storytelling aspect of Persian architecture, which created different narratives in my mind. After practicing as an architect for a few years, I got into art-making for its repetitive process; it allowed a space for self-reflection.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a few sculptures and tapestries, exploring light, shade, and perspective. I am using thread, felt, and patterns to make a layered image. By juxtaposing deep shade and bright light, I am investigating how contrast produces depth, suggesting different planes. Either weaving or needle-pointing, I stay within a framework of horizontal and vertical lines as the final results look like a pixelated image.

I got into making art as a way of expression. Growing up in a country where freedom of speech is heavily censored, I found comfort in art and the process of making.

Azadeh Gholizadeh

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

This whole body of work started a few years experimenting with materials and the idea of borders and boundaries. I made a weaving, and I fell in love with image making within a surface structure. Not having a border to start with made me look beyond a constrained area. Additionally, the act of connecting two points with thread became a metaphor reflecting my situation as an Iranian immigrant. And of course, I very much enjoyed the repetitive process and meditative qualities.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

Both! Sometimes I get stuck with an image, and that becomes a starting point for other works. Other than that, I have a broader approach to my practice where I explore the body, landscape, and fragmentation of memory by examining my emotional connection to belonging. I am interested in the dialogue between landscape, memory, and craft.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

Depending on the hour I get to the studio, I either get to work pretty quickly or start procrastinating by cleaning and organizing. When I finally get to work, I usually start by sketching on paper, do a little bit of reading, or look at images online. I do take regular breaks to cuddle and play with my dog.

Who are your favorite artists?

I have many artists whom I love. Depending on the work that I am making, I get very interested in specific artists. Lately, I have been looking at Utagawa Hiroshige’s woodblock prints, and Etel Adnan, Marsden Hartley, and Jean Marchand paintings. I am inspired by the works of Ani Albers, Gunta Stölzl, and Lenore Tawney.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

I enjoy discovering artists through artist friends, galleries, museums, Instagram, and residencies that I attend.

Azadeh Gholizadeh is an artist based in Chicago who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist:

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