Salon Series: A Conversation with Mehdi Ghadyanloo
October 20, 2016
NYU Washington, DC welcomed Iranian artist, Mehdi Ghadyanloo, in conversation with Andy Shallal, Iraqi-American activist and owner of Busboys and Poets, for a Salon Series dialogue.
Mehdi Ghadyanloo (b. 1981) is an Iranian artist known for his utopian and philosophical paintings that interrogate universal human precepts such as fear, hope and loss. Through the portrayal of minimal heterotopic environments, surreal architectural arrangements, and the repeated use of symbolic elements such as stairs, balloons and aeroplanes, Ghadyanloo invites us to consider new realities and the shared universality of our existence.
Ghadyanloo has always lived in Iran and grew up on a farm during the Iran-Iraq war. The uncertain experiences of war and sanctions had a lasting effect on his psyche. Through his works Ghadyanloo subconsciously encapsulates and expresses a sense of suspension for an entire generation living in Iran. Although at times somber, Ghadyanloo’s work conveys hope that change can be effected, and it speaks with joy of what remains glorious in gloomy times.
Aside from his works on canvas, a wide range of print making techniques, and sculpture, Ghadyanloo is also one of Iran’s foremost public artists. After answering an open call from the Municipality of Tehran's Beautification Bureau, Ghadyanloo painted over 100 gigantic murals throughout Tehran between 2004 and 2011.
Anas “Andy” Shallal (interlocutor) is an Iraqi American activist, artist and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and proprietor of Busboys and Poets, an activism center and café in Washington DC, which features prominent speakers and authors and provides a venue for social and political activism.
Since its inception, Busboys and Poets has become the most blogged about restaurant and gathering place in Washington DC and has become an incubator for activism and social change. Andy Shallal is a member of the board of trustees for The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank. He also sits on several arts and philanthropic boards, including The Washington Peace Center, The Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at GMU, DC Vote, Think Local First, Social Venture Network, The National Arab American Museum and Split This Rock Poetry Festival.
He has been a featured speaker at several conferences and panels that deal with Iraqi as well as Israeli-Palestinian issues. He is the founder of Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives which was an ad hoc group formed prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group was instrumental in speaking out about the detrimental impact of war on ordinary Iraqis and sought to find more peaceful alternatives to change Iraq’s regime. He has appeared on major television and radio shows including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, The News Hour, NPR, and Pacifica. He has been published in various major newspapers and journals, including the Washington Post, NY Times and Christian Science Monitor. Andy Shallal is also the co founder of The Peace Cafe which promotes Arab and Jewish dialogue and improved understanding. Since its inception in 2000, the Peace Café has become the largest Arab Jewish dialogue group in the Washington metropolitan area with over 900 members. Anas Shallal has worked with the Seeds of Peace program which brings Arab and Israeli youth from the region to the United States during the summer to learn how to co exist. Andy Shallal also speaks extensively on social entrepreneurship and sustainability.
As an artist Andy Shallal has worked with a variety of materials. His most recent work is political collage. His murals have been featured in many publications including the Washington Post and are displayed at Busboys and Poets, The Institute for Policy Studies and DC Vote. He is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and attended Howard University Medical School before dropping out to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. He has received numerous human rights and peace awards and is proud to be doing his part to make living on earth a bit more bearable. Founder, Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives Co-founder, The Peace Cafe Peace Fellow, Seeds of Peace Founder, Mesopotamia Cultural Society Spokesman, Education for Peace in Iraq Center Advisory Board, International Occupation Watch Center Board of Trustees Chair, Abraham's Vision National Advisory Board, Arab American National Museum.
The Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center has been made possible through the generous leadership and support of alumni and friends, who have facilitated the University's purchase of the global academic site.
The NYU Washington, DC Salon Series: Conversations with Writers & Artists offers an opportunity for the NYU and Washington, DC community to meet and engage in dialogue with acclaimed writers and artists as they reflect on their craft. This program provides facilitated conversations that aim to illuminate the guests’ creative processes, discuss their current works, and explain the impact of their work on the world around us.