Spectra: A Counting

Artist: Taraneh Hemami

Taraneh Hemami’s West Wall project, Spectra: A Counting translates 30 years of Walter and Elise Haas Fund grantmaking into a vivid spectrum of lucent glass. In the piece, over 32,000 one-inch beads — each representing $10,000 in grants awarded — form a luminous curtain containing 33 iridescent, silver-lined, satin, and translucent shades. It creates a tangible representation of millions of dollars of philanthropic support.

In Hemami’s project, each strand begins with a white, black, or grey bead that identifies the geographical location of the grantees represented (San Francisco, Bay Area, or national). Within each string, each bead’s color correlates to a specific category and sub-category of giving as follows:

JEWISH LIFE: Yellows and Oranges
ARTS: Reds and Purples

Artist’s Statement

I work with materials of history, organizing images and information into patterns, weaving narratives that reveal complex relationships and connections across cultures. My works investigate the in-between spaces: between art, artifact, and architecture; between two and three-dimensional space; and between technology and hand crafted objects.

I play with the notion of place, transposing one location into another, collapsing spaces of ideology or commerce. My installations are designed as platforms for performances that invite participation. I am interested in evoking the senses with light, reflection, movement, and with transitions, time, and repetition. I aim to dazzle and attract viewers so they engage directly, examine more closely, and rethink their assumed perceptions.

Posed as provocations, my projects are meant as an invitation to ignite dialog. They are playful explorations of the political puzzle that connects continents and histories.

Artist Biography

Raised in Tehran, Iran, and working in San Francisco for over three decades, Taraneh Hemami explores themes of displacement, preservation, and representation through her work.

In 2000, Hemami received a Creative Work Fund grant for her project, Hall of Reflections, which involved creating multidimensional installations and web projects based on collected narratives and photographs of Iranian immigrants in the Bay Area. Hall of Reflections additionally received a Story Fund grant from California Council for the Humanities and a San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grant. It was first exhibited at the San Francisco Arts Commission (2002) and then at the 6th International Sharjah Biennial (2003). Over 300 pieces from the project were installed permanently at the Persian Center in Berkeley (2004), while other installations and assemblages based on Hall of Reflections continue to be showcased elsewhere.

Taraneh Hemami was the 2005-2006 Artist in Residence at the Center for Art and Public Life at the California College of the Arts. Her work resides in permanent collections internationally, including at the Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum in London. She has received awards including a Eureka Fellowship, a Center for Cultural Innovation Award, a California Humanities Community Award, and a Creative Capital grant.

Images courtesy of Shadi Yousefian.

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