We had the good fortune of connecting with Soheyla Rashidyan, and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Soheyla, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
“Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is ‘to fit together’ and we all do this every day. Not all of us are painters but we are all artists. Each time we fit things together we are creating – whether it is to make a loaf of bread, a child, a day.” – Corita Kent I did not try to be an artist. I have always had so many questions – scary ones, funny ones, great ones, stupid & childish ones, and unanswered ones – all types. My life has been a continual search for harmony, composition, movement, unity, and variety, looking for the details to find balance and proportion of the bad with the good (mystery of my life). In such a search, we can discover peace in baking bread (taste life), making fragrant tea or freshly brewed coffee (smell life), planting beans (to see growing), looking to the sky and seeing shining stars (to feel glory), looking at trees, with their roots firmly in the ground but able to sway in the morning breeze. But bad things come – things that scare us, that leave us feeling trapped with no way to go out; and we may find ourselves fitting our life to those bad things. Art allows us to give form to these questions, to recognize the bad and to express the good and to deal with their conflict and to express and achieve their balance. Life brought out the artist inside me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Life not only brought out the artist in me, but it opened my heart to the dreams of what can be done for others through art. Over time, those dreams have jelled into a vision of a special kind of visual art museum. This museum will be a home where people from around the world can come to experience the world of children’s art – from the development stages they go through to the secrets they are telling us through their drawings and paintings, and it will be a source for grants and the open exchange of ideas for those delving deeper into discovering and revealing more of this artistic world. But this special museum will also celebrate and help grow the art of our contemporary masters through demos, seminars, and classes provided by local, regional, and international masters, through exhibitions of works of both established and emerging masters, through art competitions (both real and virtual) with both recognition and monetary rewards, and through an ever-expanding permanent gallery of contemporary master works. This may sound like so much that it is a risky thing to reach for, but… The funny thing about risk taking is that the “risky” choice is really just a moment of opportunity. Right now, from where I am and who I am, the moment to create this museum is now. So, we have started a 501(c)3 non-profit, the Soheyla Rashidyan Foundation, to found the Museum of Contemporary Visual Art, moving our dream to a reality and making life beautiful for others. What a great time for that! And I welcome others who want beauty to join me in building this museum-home. Visit our website, http://mocva.org/donate, to make a donation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Starting close to my home, we would visit the Heritage Farm Museum that celebrates life in North Texas as it was 150 years ago when most Texans made their living on Farms and Ranches. From there, it is a short drive to Historic Downtown Plano that is transitioning from its small-town roots to an Arts District that blends late 19th Century architecture with 21st Century murals and other public art. While we were there, we would eat Texas barbecue at Lockhart’s and visit the Interurban Railway Museum. One of the delights in Dallas is the Arboretum with its indigenous plants set on the grounds of an old private estate on the shores of White Rock Lake, where the old estate buildings serve as park offices and the backdrop for creative plantings. We would visit Texas-themed public art going to The Mustangs at Los Colinas and in downtown Dallas at Pioneer Plaza. While downtown, we could also visit the Nasher Sculpture Gardens and the Meyerson Symphony Hall for a symphonic or operatic performance. Finally, I would want to make time for the Texas Sculpture Garden in Hall Business Park in Frisco and the Biblical Arts Museum and a visit to Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum for its Western Art and the Kimball Art Museum.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Reading Dostoevsky in high school awakened in me an awareness that behind their surface façade, many fears, desires, beliefs, and doubts churn inside a person’s soul. I read all of his novels and then the works of Romain Rolland. I started feeling things from the inside out and knowing that there was depth beyond the surface everywhere – in people, in animals, in plants, even in rocks and dirt. This sense became reflected in my art. During the four years I spent in a refugee camp in the Netherlands, I was able to teach art to children in the camp from many different cultures and ethnicities. From this experience, I discovered that these children, regardless of their background, all progressed through the same stages in their artistic awareness and development. But I discovered another thing – that children start with the natural ability to sense beneath the surface of the objects that they draw or paint. This is reflected in their art unless it is coached out of them by adults telling them to be more “realistic.” Many people and many experiences have nudged me to where I am today in my life and in my art, but my “shoutouts” go to Dostoevsky and the other writers who look inside the soul of their characters and to the children of that camp in the Netherlands.
Mike Korman, Mahboubeh Mohammad Pour, David Layman, Masoud Wala, Soheyla Rashidyan, Tara Gholami, Mi Sook