Feature Article - Shaping Trauma Through Art - Negin Chahoud
Article by Alana Gogic
Iranian Australian refugee Negin Chahoud migrated to Australia with her family in 1989 at the age of eight. Thirty-four years later, Chahoud is an established artist residing in the Southern Highlands, NSW. Her work is taking the Australian art scene by storm.
As an artist and refugee, Chahoud uses her practice to unpack the dichotomy of homeland longing and displacement with complex feelings of legal rights and general safety in Australia. Chahoud fuses trauma-related practices with socially engaged art to tell her story and encourage others to work through theirs.
"We escaped Iran by foot and settled In Pakistan for two years until Australia gave us permanent residency", explains Negin.
Chahoud creates multi-layered, mixed-media, intricate, semi-abstract artworks. She uses art to explore and unpack the motifs of trauma, identity, and healing. She has channelled her emotional journey as a refugee from Iran - shaping feelings into works of art. Her artworks draw the viewer in to connect and empathise with her experience, gaining insights into the complex emotions and psychological effects of trauma. Trauma art can be a powerful healing tool for both the artist and the audience.
Azade Mix media on paper. 70.5cm x 90cm Finalist for Blacktown Art Prize
This piece represents my journey as a refugee from Iran. From the roughness created on the paper to the staining with the use of natural elements to the Persian calligraphy, it all comes together as a narrative of my journey. Freedom was something we yearned for, and this piece allows me to showcase exactly that.
Each element of Chahoud's work is carefully selected, including the process by which the paper or canvas has come to life. The staining, mark-marking, harsh and sometimes raw tearing, and stitching are all meaningful to the narrative. Each piece showcases part of her history and reflects on her journey to healing and the inspiration she draws from her natural surroundings.
Negin Chahoud with Letter of Love Project participants - Half Cube Gallery Blacktown.
Now a source of inspiration for others and an influential figure in her community. For International Women's Day 2023, Chahoud led a workshop at Creative Space Southern Highlands (CSSG), featured in the local news. Chahoud invited women to take part in her Letters of Love Project. Chahoud was quoted as "Being here and remembering that is so significant to me, I'm part of women who can't talk and have a voice right now,".
Katherine Kennedy (left) and Negin Chahoud (right) - Gallery NWC Launch - Image by Eddy Summers Photography
Negin Chahoud is one of 24 artists under the Nationwide Curating umbrella. Nationwide Curating's relationship with Negin Chahoud was formed at Kingswood Institute of TAFE when Nationwide Curating owner Katherine Kennedy and Chahoud were both students. Today, Chahoud is a practising artist, and Kennedy pioneers the business and collective that supports Australian artists and shines a light on current and emerging talent.
'Her Story' by Negin Chahoud - Limited edition, photographic silkscreen on paper
For Nationwide Curating owner Kennedy, the moment she knew Chahoud was a must have artist when she saw her work "Her Story", a photographic silkscreen featuring a child with her grandmother, a rifle, Islamic calligraphy, and bloody finger marks completing the composition. Negin describes ''Her Story'' as "my grandmother's story and her fight for freedom" (Chahoud 2023).
Chahoud is currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Curtin University). She holds a Certificate IV in Fine Arts at Nepean Arts and Design Center (Kingwood TAFE) and a Certificate IV in Interactive Media (Mt Druitt TAFE). Chahoud has exhibited her works in many group exhibitions throughout Sydney and Internationally, including Rome.
Negin Chahoud is currently exhibiting in a solo exhibition by Nationwide Curating at WOTSO Pyrmont. The exhibition is running from the 25 March – 19 May 2023 and can be viewed between business hours at 3/55 Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Australia. Weekend access is permitted during the day after approaching security for access.