Pantea Karimi talks art, history, identity and science at Harker Speaker Series

On Nov. 29, Iranian American artist Pantea Karimi, the 2023 Dickinson Endowment artist-in-residence, appeared as the second speaker in the 2023-24 Harker Speaker Series at the Patil Theater. Joined on stage by Joshua Martinez, Harker’s grades 6-12 visual arts chair, Karimi talked about her work as well as her experience working with Harker students.
During the approximately 40-minute conversation, Karimi and Martinez discussed how she uses designs found in ancient Iranian architecture to explore her identity, a process she described as having a “therapeutic” quality that “helps me to ponder and reflect over current issues and put it into perspective.” The designs also inspired the projects that Harker students took part in during her guest sessions in their classes. Spurred by the designs found in the famous Topkapi scroll, “I came up with the idea of students designing stars in a pixel form,” she said, noting that while “stars are the most well-known astral bodies,” students all had different interpretations of their appearances. “The star designs they created are just mind-blowing,” she said. “So free and so beautiful.”
Karimi also discussed her past projects, such as the collection of works she created for the University of California, San Francisco Library called “Saffron, Saint of Spice,” so named for the plant native to Iran that has played a significant role in its culture for centuries. The pieces place the saffron crocus in a variety of contexts to portray its importance as both a medicinal component and a food ingredient.
Another work, “Khayyam-Pascal,” demonstrates her interest in how the sciences and arts intersect, paying tribute to the mathematicians named in the title with a series of connected triangles that could conceivably stretch into infinity. “I see similarities between the discovery processes,” said Karimi, who studied science and art concurrently. Imagination, she said, is a crucial part of both disciplines, and both seek to “create meaning.”
The full video of Karimi’s Harker Speaker Series appearance is available to watch on YouTube.
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Published two times a year, The Harker Magazine showcases some of the top news, leading programs, inspiring people and visionary plans of the greater Harker community.

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