Taraji is the director of Tara Gallery and the co-founder and president of The American Foundation for Contemporary Iranian Art (AFCIA.org). She is a member of the Farhang Foundation Fine Arts Council.
She has been a curator and exhibitor of contemporary Iranian art in the United States since 2002. She has long-term relationships and access to artists, art administrators, collectors, auctioneers, and galleries in Iran.
In parallel with arts, Taraji has had a long career in space programs and information technology with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Aerospace Corporation in California. She holds a B.S. degree in Physics and an M.S. in Electronics from Tehran University and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. Here is a quick chat with her.
On the process of selecting art works for exhibition at Tara Gallery:
I select all the artworks and then they are sent to the United States for exhibition in my gallery. My first exhibition showcased works by Mohammad Ehsai, Koorosh Shishegaran and Farideh Lashai. In 2010, I organized another art event with Dr Alireza Sami-Azar in Los Angeles. After that, I opened a gallery to organize monthly exhibitions. Because of low audience turnout, the gallery went online under the name of Tara - in collaboration with the American Foundation for Contemporary Iranian Art.
On top sellers at Tara Gallery:
Once a Ford CEO bought a painting by Ahmad Vakili. I also sold a work by Pooneh Jafarinejad to a lady working for the Australian embassy in the US. People from all walks of life buy paintings from Tara, and I’m happy for that. Iranian art is superior to many others in the world, if you ask me. The problem is we are yet to use advertising to create brand images and symbolic appeals for Iranian art.
On choosing the US to open the Tara Gallery:
I live in the States and it was easier for me to open the gallery there. There is no Iranian gallery in Los Angeles. Many Americans know nothing about Iranian art. We must open a permanent gallery there to strike a responsive chord with consumers.
On the presence of Iranian art in global markets:
Iranian art works are not known or popular in the US. There are exceptions in places like New York. But I have never seen a gallery there that exhibits only Iranian art. Gallery owners say I need to write articles about Iranian artists and promote their works first and foremost. We need to invest in advertising to promote sales, introduce Iranian art, create good public image, and educate people.
On the type of works popular in the US:
I never like the idea that an art work should carry a political message. Political artworks mean nothing to American audiences. They prefer Iranian abstract art. Iranian modern and classic art works also sell well in charity auctions. It’s a good idea to cooperate with these annual events as well. It might help to increase the goodwill and reputation.
On Tehran Auction:
It’s doing an excellent job. We managed to repeat the success of Christies’ in Iran, which is a great achievement. Dr. Sami-Azar has seen the future and it’s promising. He also did a great job for the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. He works with a strong team and they always manage to pull things off.
Dr. Sami-Azar is of the opinion that I can help sell Iranian artworks in world markets. We might need to organize a data bank for our artists or do the auction sales personally in other parts of the world. To globalize the Tehran Auction and make it a bigger event, we need to go well beyond individual efforts.
You can visit Tara Gallery at https://taragallery.org or email for information about its international events and services at firstname.lastname@example.org.