Saffron and Hibiscus Series by Saya Behnam
Saffron and Hibiscus Series
by Saya Behnam
It’s important for me to use materials that offer a story about location, historical meaning and culture.
Saffron is one of the most representative elements of Persian culture, and in my Saffron Series, I use it together with other plants and materials that originated from Iran (like Katira or Traggagunt gum). I’m especially interested in looking at it from a variety of angles, from the botanic aspects of its delicate beauty to mythological and traditional beliefs, such as using it as sacred ink, and of course, as a treasured element in our cuisine.
Nature—and the juxtaposition of time and space; birth and death; natural patterns; and structures of growth, decay, chaos, and order I find in it—is a great inspiration in my art practice. Creating my colors and inks from fresh, dried flowers, spices, plants, earth stones, and pigments transforms them from just mediums to parts of places and time.
Furthermore, like any other living thing, flowers produce different colors according to weather, soil, and location. Therefore, each color created is unique and specific to the moment, time, and environment, making them nonreplicable. They become singular visual aesthetic records of that unique location and time.
I often use Saffron and Hibiscus tea as my medium in my pieces. Inspired by ancient Persian Miniatures, Manuscripts, and Illumination, Saffron was considered a sacred and protective element and color. For me, Saffron also has a deep connection to the meaning of home, with its aroma, taste, and vibrant color that I experienced in my childhood.
Painting with Saffron
In some of the following pieces, I used saffron and my breath as my painting tool. My breath is like the wind; instead of on the soil, I spread them on my paper to expand their magical colors.
A tribute to Khayyam
The Illusion of Time. A short video based on the great Persian poet “Khayyam” about how time is just an illusion and the concept of our very transient life. I created a wall sculpture with saffron, clay, and pieces and parts of clocks, and this video
Learn more about Saffron, Hibiscus and Natural Colors.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sayeh “Saya” Behnam is an Iranian-American artist born in Tehran, Iran.
Fleeing from war, turmoil, revolution, experiencing dictatorship, cultural and traditional barriers, all had a profound influence in her art and life.
She believes her art is where she can easily find and establish a true identity that could very much have been lost and undefined. Her art deals with the core concepts of the human being: life, death, freedom, the now, time, and more.
She is very active in the social and humanitarian art space, working with NGOs in the Middle East and the USA, especially with street children. She currently lives in northern Virginia, near the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. More at www.sbehnam.com.