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For Immediate Release
February 11, 2008

College Art Gallery presents “Parable of the Garden” focusing on
cultural legacy of former Persia

Opening Reception Wednesday, February 20

EWING, NJ … The College Art Gallery will present its fourth exhibition this year, “Parable of the Garden: New Media Art from Iran and Central Asia” from February 20 through March 30. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, February 20 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the gallery, on the first floor of Holman Hall. A gallery discussion with the curators will be held just before the reception at 4:00 p.m.

Muratbek Djoumaliev & Gulnara Kasmalieva, "Paradise," three channel video installationThe exhibit, which geographically focuses on former Persia and its cultural legacy, presents recent media works by artists from countries that were once part of the great empire.  The show features the works of ten artists or collaborative teams hailing from Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Two of the artists now live in Europe, but the rest remain in Central Asia, and all engage in the cultural dialogue of place and identity. The media in which they work include digital photography, video, installation, and graphic design.

The exhibit, curated by Sarah Cunningham, gallery director and Deborah Hutton, associate professor of art, and Leeza Ahmady, independent curator and recognized expert on contemporary art from Central Asia, thematically explores not only the traditional garden and the contemporary sense of place, but also notions of paradise lost and found, lessons learned and forgotten, and traditions cherished and rejected.

After the artists and artworks were selected, Hutton gave students in her fall 2007 Arts of Iran course the semester-long project of researching and writing about the individual artists, the thematic focus of the exhibition, and the region’s complex history. Students completed research through email interviews with the artists, in-class discussion with each other and the exhibit curators, class lectures, and individually collected data. Excerpts from the student’s final research papers provide a useful context in which to situate the works on display in the gallery.

Please visit for gallery information and hours. The gallery will be closed from March 9-16 for Spring Break. Tours are available by appointment. Please email

The exhibit is sponsored by the Department of Art, the School of the Arts and Communication, and the Committee for Cultural and Intellectual Community (CCIC). It is also made possible in part by the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission through funding from the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. This is exhibit is part of Asian Contemporary Art Week (3/15-24/08,

Featured Artists:

Vyacheslav Akhunov
Muratbek Djoumaliev & Gulnara Kasmalieva
Shahram Entekhabi
Simin Keramati
Khosro Khosravi
Erbossyn Meldibekov
Almagul Menlibayeva
Rahraw Omarzad/Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan
Karan Reshad/Kolah Studio
Alexander Ugay

Alexander Ugay, "Paradise Landscape," digital print on canvas


This exhibit is a part of TCNJ’s 2007-2008 program, “Religion, Culture and Identity.” In addition to an interdisciplinary sequence of courses, this and the other events in the program highlight the evolution of personal and social identity as shaped by different global religions and their cultures, the varied expressions of religious experience in writings, art, film, and music, and its relation to other cultural, social, and political developments of the past and present. The events are co-sponsored by CCIC, the Religious Studies Committee, the School of the Arts and Communication, and the School of Culture & Society.