Born in 1995 in Tehran, Iran, Helia Pouyanfar immigrated to California in 2014 and received her B.A. in studio art from the University of California, Berkeley in 2019, specializing in contemporary sculpture and installation art. She is currently residing in Northern California as a second-year MFA candidate and 2021 Margrit Mondavi graduate fellow at the University of California, Davis. About her work, in her own words:
"In my most recent sculptures, I attempt to merge my traumas, hopes, and imaginations all in one place. I begin by asking “what if when the moment of exile arrives, the immigrant – enraged and heartbroken by facing this sudden disruption in her life – picks up a sledgehammer and begins chipping away from the walls of the place she once called home? What if instead of taking money, clothes, or family albums, she “steals” what’s rightfully hers; a piece of brick, drywall, a door handle, part of a window, bathroom faucets? What if she takes a piece of her home with her across borders and leaves the disruption in place for those who evicted her? What if she takes these materials to later patch them back up to materialize her dream of belonging to places and spaces that she is foreign in?” These questions have led me to create sculptures deeply complex in nature – replete with characters, highs and lows, heroes and anti-heroes, beginnings and futures. I attempt to expand upon my research in order to create sculptures that speak to collective experiences of migration, dereliction, and world-making."