The project has multiple layers of collaboration –involving research, dialogue, creation and presentation. The artists have been researching the Nishapur tradition including studying the Metropolitan Museum's Iranian Expedition (1935–1940) published archive, and talking to scholars including professor Sheila Blair, one of the main figures in Islamic Art History, and Carol Bier, one of the renowned researchers in Islamic patterns and decoration styles, as well as the Curators of Islamic Art at the Asian Art Museum, Qamar Adamjee and San Diego Museum of Art, Marika Sardar.
Thematically the artists reflect on Nishapur’s one-time status as a cultural center along the Silk Road, and extrapolate out from this contemporary parallels dealing with international commerce, media, and cross-cultural fertilization. Artistically the research are sourced various historically accurate Nishapur patterns and techniques. Research has fed into both the dialogue and artistic creation, and has built a proper foundation for the project.
The dialogue process –which has happened since 2014 via phone, in-person meetings (at ICCNC and artist studios) and emails—through which artists searched to elicit various ‘messages,’ relying on research and community and artist contributions. Forrest started collecting tweets and messages from the Arab Spring, intending to use them someday and he has mined this collection for this project.
In the creation stage Arash and Forrest first independently responded and then crafted objects together, in a process that emphasized each of their traditions, while forging new, collaborative methods specific to this project. The artists trade sketches, techniques and tests, concerning themselves with materials, forms, design, scale, historical context, and the written word. Arash and Forrest have complemented each other’s skills. Arash, with his educational background in industrial design, proposes new designs for the outside shape of the vessels, prepares calligraphy inscriptions, and applies decorative features as needed. Depending on the piece and its purpose, the calligraphy inscriptions are transferred to the surface of the ceramics with the technique that Forrest has developed, Volumetric Image Transfer. Forrest has been creating the silkscreens, vessels, and tile and has been managing the firing process.
Most of the work created has these specifications...
Clay Body: Iron Rich Stoneware
Surface Treatment: Volumetric Image Transfer, Brush Work, S-Graphitto, Shadow Printing, Fire Torch Treatment
Firing Technique: Fired with Reduction Cooling