"Prior to arriving in the United States in 2014, Helia Pouyanfar, who was born in Iran, lived as a refugee for three years. She says, “I learned firsthand that bodily connection to place is brutalized by the dividing nature of borders.” The multifaceted experience of placelessness influenced her exploration of ideas around home, migration, and place:
"It is the irony of it that interests me the most; what makes a home is the groundedness it offers to the body. Home is the permission to stay. Once the moment of exile arrives, however, this permission to stay gives way to a new reality. Now, Home is a metaphor that latches onto things, as one moves through the world. Eventually, this uprooted sense of belonging finds solace in its permanently transient state."
Inspired by her cultural background of Sufism and eastern mysticism, Pouyanfar utilizes materials like wallpaper, suitcases, cbricks, cement, doors, and windows in an examination of passage and the relationship between liminal spaces and transit. “I endeavor to illustrate how the refugee body in its permanently transient state possesses an ephemeral sense of belonging and attempts to negotiate and reconcile placeless-ness in every space it enters.”
- Except from the Niche at Dovetail Magazine
Pouyanfar received her B.A. in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley in 2019 and her MFA in Studio Art from the University of California, Davis in 2022. Her work has been exhibited at Manetti Shrem Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, Root Division, and Axis Gallery, amongst other galleries throughout California. She is the recipient of 2021 Margrit Mondavi Graduate Fellowships and received the Certificate of Excellence in Sculpture from UC Berkeley. She currently lives and works in the Bay Area.