24 July 2007


24 July 2007
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE on exhibit ‘ shiraz, the city of paradise’

If art could describe the fragrance of the soul’s inner beauty and capture a glimpse of the unseen world, then it was something of a service to mankind, artist Laurie Blum told correspondents this afternoon at a press conference sponsored by Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Providing a background for her exhibit currently at the United Nations, entitled “Shiraz, the city of Paradise:  the Real Dialogue Among Civilizations”, Ms. Blum said her paintings of the “Garden of Paradise” had helped her to discover who she was, and while she had gone to Iran against the wishes of family, friends and public opinion, she had found the “world of herself” amid Iran’s ancient culture and art.

Ms. Blum, a native of New York who has studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and the New York Studio School, said that, when she had first travelled to Iran, she had felt a need to go there.  It had seemed impossible, but the doors had opened for her to visit.  First stepping foot on Iranian soil, she had experienced a feeling of coming home.  While she had not expected that, Iran and its people were very familiar to her.

When she had first seen the Garden of Paradise at Shiraz, she realized that she had been looking for that garden since childhood.  Believing there was an inner garden inside of her, she had started to paint the garden.  She had long wondered what the symbols had meant and why they were so important to her.  Her life had become the journey to find out something unconscious -- something she had to learn about through painting.  She had been searching for the beauty of the “outer garden”; she had now found her “inner garden” as she pained in Shiraz. 

As the first painter to exhibit her work at the Tomb Shrine of Hafez in Shiraz, Iran in 2004, Ms. Blum’s work has travelled from India to the United States and was on exhibit in 2006 in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C.  Seeing her work, former Iranian Cultural Ambassador to the United Nations, Mehdi Faridzadeh, had realized that her paintings reflected the real dialogue of civilizations.  She was grateful that her paintings had now found place in the United Nations, she said.

Introducing Ms. Blum, Mansour Sadeghi from Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, said she painted greatly what she felt, and she felt deeply what she painted.  A prominent artist, she was committed to promoting the global values that united people.

Opening the press conference, Mr. Sadeghi added that the reputation of Iranian culture and civilization was well known, as was the depth of its art, the magnificence of its music, the richness of its cinema, the splendour of its poetry, the wisdom demonstrated in its great carpets, its exceptional architecture and its miniature paintings, which represented a secret language of love, understanding and compassion.

Indeed, to understand Iran and its people it was necessary to acquire an understanding of its ancient culture and rich civilization, he said.  Throughout history, Iranians had been not only open to other cultures, but had freely adopted all they had found useful.  An eclectic cultural elasticity had emerged, and was one of the key characteristics of the Persian spirit and a clue to its longevity.

Iranian art had gone through numerous phases of evolution, he continued.  The Persian language had been in continuous use for over 2,500 years.  Persian literature had inspired many, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, and had served as a conduit for poetry.  Soft and expressive, the Persian language stood apart from all other eastern languages as a poetic language.  There were many meanings to one word, and many ways to express one’s thoughts.

Islam was one of the most important sources enriching Iranian thought and culture, he said.  Islamic experience was a global one and had, throughout history, extended a global invitation to all of humanity.  The Islamic era had drastically enriched Iranian culture and art.

An initiative of Iran, the Dialogue among Civilizations had been another step in Iran’s contribution to mankind’s culture and civilization, he said.  The Dialogue had never been solely a conceptual discourse, but offered a new paradigm of interaction between cultures and civilizations in a world that longed for peace and stability.

Responding to several questions, Ms. Blum said there was something innate in her about the Persian language and Persian miniatures.  She was still finding out and learning.  She had been seeking an inner garden, a mystical place, which she had found at Shiraz.  Shiraz was the most beautiful place on earth and she had followed her inner guidance in going there.

Her paintings were of the inner world and not about people, she said in response to another question.  The inner world was like a subtle language, a place of great beauty and light.  In her imagination, it was flowers and birds.  Everyone had their own inner world.  It was up to each to try to seek that world and to find the path that led to it.

Philosophy did not have anything to do with her experience, she added.  She had always loved classical music.  Listening to Iranian music, her heart understood it.  Merging sound with colour, her paintings were the architecture of light and the structure of vibration. 

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.