Meet Yasamin "Yaz" Safarzadeh, an Auburn activist, visual artist and performer
You might say that Yasamin Safarzadeh is hidden in plain sight, though evidence of her presence is proliferating as she works to elevate under-represented voices and traditionally marginalized communities. While illuminating artists and causes she respects, she’s content to remain in the shadows. But beneath that obscure surface, Yaz (as she is known by friends and colleagues) is a blazing star in her own right: a performer, visual artist, organizer and activist. Her current day gig is program director at the historic Kimball Jenkins in Concord — where this photo was taken, in the attic, elevated but private and offering views of the Capitol City, past, present and future.
- Persians have a huge history [her family is from Iran]. It’s much more secular and artful than the new regime acting out the hate present in that country today. Hundreds of young people killed and exiled … I guess that’s why a lot of us are here.
- My aunt lives there with her sons. Everything is expensive, corrupt and surveilled. Sometimes we can’t speak freely. But, she is active on Instagram — we talk on there.
- It hurts to sit in New Hampshire and see my mother and sister protesting in Los Angeles and Dallas, but I love them for it. It’s lonely here, you know.
- I think I have found a way to be an artist that is effective in alleviating some of the pains our communities suffer by creating spaces and accessibilities to the arts.
- Through the years of living here I have built a faith and trust in my work from the community, and due to this, people let me in their spaces to facilitate moments of expression.
- I love watching all this go down and researching why we do what we do as a human species, why we are so fearful and hateful. Then I love to act on that observation; empathy and research. It is a privilege to render observation into action.
- Initially, I was without a car. I sold it to move here. I walked three miles a day at least, everywhere, for two years.
- Spite drives me. And love. I have an insane capacity to love, but I also need to be alive and do the work in order to outlive and overturn the bad actors in our region.
- I speak about isolation a lot, but I like being an outlier. I like to be alone, though I thrive in public settings and operate from a vast network of place-makers and creatives.
- It’s important to find your people, even if it is online; I can attend meetups on Zoom conducted by scholars all over the world from my computer. I can cry with them, and they know why I cry.
- I keep meeting happy people who know such burdens, but they do not live like that weight owns them; they live to give what they’ve got to others. This is why I keep moving and why I smile, because I can see the change we are making together. I believe in us and I believe in our potential for good.
- I never fit in, I still don’t, and I like it that way. I like being on the outside, studying, writing, engaging, dropping in to act as a touchstone, then moving out again.
Yasamin Safarzadeh describes her art as “mixed media, concept and civic,” noting, “I celebrate all materials and enjoy exploring themes, theories and histories involved therein.” She mentors young artists and operates a writing incubator for teens with Manchester InkLink. She says she identifies with others who, like her, are “trying to move through the pain and isolation.” Still, when asked about her inspirations, she cites visions of grandeur. “There are beautiful things in this world,” she says. “I see the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness. I see Anza Borrego, a land cultivated by the Yaqui People. I see Black Rock in Nevada. I remember faintly the mosques of gold, teal and lapis in Iran.” Many of her diverse strands come together at Kimball Jenkins. “I am curating a show next April called ‘All My Friends Are in This Show.’ It’s going to be amazing and wild. Also, I am pioneering a residency program at Waypoint’s youth shelter, just me as an artist, and I’m excited to see how that pans out.” More at surethingyaz.com.