Oriental Carpets,
2020, Gouache on canvas, 12 x 9 in.

Big Flower, 2020, Gouache on pressed flower paper, 6.5 x 4.75 in.

Born in the U.S.A., 2021, Photo transfers on canvas, 48 x 36 in.

Bounds, With, 2021, Cyanotype on muslin cotton, 29 x 21.5 in.

A love letter to the flowers in Texas and the trees in Iran, 2021,
Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 in.

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Haley Darya Parsa


Haley Darya Parsa works in a variety of mediums, engaging in painting, fabric-dyeing, cyanotypes, print, and sculpture. Parsa investigates the ways in which images, objects, and rituals embedded in personal histories can relate to a larger cultural context. Having grown up in Texas as Iranian-American, she places her family and Persian heritage under an intimate meditative lens, reflecting on ideas of distance, separation, memorialization, and connection. Her work is both sentimental and critical, thinking about how we read, identify, and value things.

    - Artist statement

Click works to the left (on desktop) or below (on mobile) to view full-screen.

haleyparsa.com︎     @haleydaryaparsa︎ 


As an Iranian-American woman, how would you describe the sense of distance, separation and/or connection between your Texas upbringing and your Persian heritage?

Distance is an inherent part of my identity and experience. I feel an overwhelming sense of placelessness, like I’m living in a diaspora from a place I’ve never been. It’s confusing. I’ve been navigating and negotiating that inbetween space for as long as I can remember.

Growing up in Texas in an Iranian-American house was weird, especially as I wasn’t able to travel to Iran, so being in the South highlighted that disparity. My culture lived in my home and through my family, but so much of it felt far away, and still does. And I think it’s important to acknowledge nuanced stories and hybrid identities because that’s the reality for many.

But don’t get me wrong, I love the South. I acknowledge all of its problems and I still feel a great attachment to it. I think the oversimplified narrative of the South is played out. There are so many diverse communities and cultures that make it beautiful, despite its history and all of its ongoing issues. And I certainly don’t want to invalidate that side of it, it’s still a hard place to be, but I do want to emphasize that there are so many who are forgotten in its simplified characterization.

Your works incorporate objects or symbols, such as books or rugs, which connect distant geographic locations, which are connected within you and your family. Do these objects relate to specific memories?

I’m an extremely sentimental person. A lot of my work deals with loss and memorialization. The exercise of recreating and reimagining personal objects feels like I am retracing history and makes me feel closer to myself and the people and memories behind them.

I’m pulling from what is close and personal to me, from family heirlooms to everyday items – things I grew up with, things I’ve been gifted throughout my life, things I’ve inherited from family members, both alive and who have passed. It all comes together to compose a self portrait in a way.

Common articles come from my jewelry collection and the Persian rugs from my family’s home. The jewelry holds a lot of cultural and sentimental value for me, including pieces my family members have given me throughout my life. Most of the pieces are from Iran and made of Iranian gold. One necklace reads “Darya” (my Persian name) in Farsi and was given to me by my cousin and uncle when we met in Turkey for the first time a few years ago. The money clip, rings, and antique necklace were all given to me by my other uncle before he passed away. The gold earrings were my grandmother’s. I wear them all the time and think of my family.

On the other hand, at times I am also critically thinking about how things are named, valued, identified, and oversimplified. For example, in Born in the U.S.A., the collage assembles together various red items around my house: a "Born in the U.S.A." CD by Bruce Springsteen, a gifted book titled "Oriental Rugs, A Handbook for the American Buyer" by Janice Summers Herbert, and a found Quran that is personally inscribed from “Linda” to “Mohamad”, all composed onto a rug that I found from Googling "Oriental Rugs".

What attracts you to the different processes you use, especially photo transfer or cyanotype processes, in addition to painting?

All of these mediums incorporate and interpret things–visually through paint, pictorially through print, representatively through cyanotype.

In both photo transfer and cyanotype processes, the image is obscured with a layer of distance, and that in-betweenness is what I’m interested in. Even in my paintings, the perspective is always slightly off, creating a world in a non-space that recalls dreams or memories. With photo transfers, the image itself is segmented and broken up and becomes clouded and faded. These pictures are usually of patterned textiles, so in meditatively tiling these sheets together in a grid, I’m building a larger pattern in itself, but it’s never a clear singular representation.

With cyanotypes, there is power in shadows. A shadow is a companion, a ghost, a memory, a silhouette, a signifier of the past, a vessel, the proof of both absence and presence, and something removed from its origin but forever tied to it. Its existence is a contradiction. There is also power in the sun, conceptually, poetically, and politically. The sun is a point of connection as it rotates and crosses borders to bring us all together.

In all of these mediums, I’m thinking poetically about sentimentality, fragmentation, ephemerality, distance, and connection.