Member Spotlight: Setareh Ghoreishi

Setareh Ghoreishi is a graphic designer and multidisciplinary digital media artist. After receiving her B.F.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Art in Tehran, Iran, she moved to the United States where she currently lives. In her work, she investigates cultural disparities, most specifically between the United States and Iran. She acquired her MFA in Graphic Design, and her passion for typography to create provocative experimental design installations. She also, with her second MFA in Art and Technology, makes video art installation and digital technology to explore the role of visual design in the interaction of cultural and social issues. Through the lens of her own experience, each country’s cultural and social relationship are examined. Her work investigates the juxtaposition of Farsi and English languages and criticizes consumerism culture along with subvertisement. Setareh now is assistant professor and teaches graphic design in Oakland University in Michigan.

1. Tell us a little about your background and your trajectory as an artist/ scholar.

I was born in Iran, a country full of contrast and beauty with thousands of years of history and civilization. My undergrad in Iran was Graphic Design.  I moved to the US in 2012 and got my first MFA in Graphic Design from Florida Atlantic University and I got my second MFA in Art and Technology at the University of Florida. During these years in the United States, I have been faced with different and unique life experiences. As an Iranian woman, I saw how my culture was different from the American culture. I saw that I could be independent in my personal and social choices and that I was able to live my life as a single woman apart from family. There are major and significant aspects of how Western society differs from that of Eastern society. Since I have come to the United States, I started to think over the cultural differences and similarities (such as food habits, languages, social behaviors,etc.), I have  found that these common points have been influencing  my life. A person’s identity, character and personality are tied to where they live and can be formed by social changes. Since social culture and personal culture play a crucial role in personal identity, assimilation with a different society brings about changes to one’s identity. My goal is to explore clash and combination of two cultures and how one adapts and works in accordance with this new culture.

2. What are some of your main influences?

In my opinion, life is inspiring. Everyday life can bring many influences. I generally always like archaeology and have been influenced by ancient art and everything which is related to the past.  Our ancestral art is the best source of inspiration. The things are existing in history, culture and literature are the best ways to give concept and insight to artists and designers to find direction in their own path in professional practice. In addition to being inspired by culture and history, there are several artists who gave me a variety of different views, such as Andy Warhol, Adbuster, Superflex, Saul Bass, Joseph Kosuth, Lorna Simpson and even some Iranian artists such as Farhad Moshiri, Shirin Neshat and Sara Rahbar.  Every single artist and designer has a unique idea which can be a source of inspiration for other artists and designers.

3. New Media is …….

Any medium is new compared with a traditional medium. Any new technique which is connected with technology and the digital world can be new media. New media artists can use technology directly in their work. Or, they can use technology for their traditional work. There is a constant interchange and juxtaposition between using technology and traditional art which exhibits new media. For example, an artist could take a traditional medium such as clay and add details using technology to complete their work. In the same respect, an artist could also begin using technology before adding in traditional art mediums to complete their piece. 

4. What is your typical day like?

A typical day during the pandemic consists of mainly sitting at the laptop for 12-15 hours a day. It requires looking at the screen endlessly in order to  reply to emails, prepare for the courses, and to do research.surfing social media and watching YouTube. In order to balance sitting at the desk for long hours of the day, I go to CrossFit in order to fit in exercise.  Chatting and holding video calls with my family in Iran are positive distractions that  bring me more happiness.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m working on several projects,But my favorite one is about the similarities and differences between languages. I am investigating  the similarities and differences in proverbs and idioms in Iranian and American culture, especially in folk language. I am also continuing to explore the words with the same translation that have very close pronunciation and spelling in both the Persian and English language. Persian and English languages have common roots in linguistics. I am currently working on creating a board game that invites viewers to interact and compare two different languages by juxtaposing similar words. Also, this project is inspired by the special wood making Persian handicraft,Khatam Kari, to make the pattern.

6. Do you have a collaborative idea that you want to get off the ground?

My goal is to improve and learn more about Javascript skills to develop my favorite area of art Net Art. Using coding and by learning more JavaScript, I am corresponding words and shapes to create interactive art.I aim to create a work with  the possibility of making a lexicon through interaction and movement while the user moves and places the words and shapes together.

7. What is the most recent thing you’ve learned?

The learning process can be very difficult or very simple. One of the things you can continually learn is how to use new words in a second language. English is my second language and to me, it is an infinite learning process. When I learn new words in English, I try to apply them and use them in my art. t. I believe that  everyday offers a new opportunity to learn new things.