Art exhibit at San Diego City College addresses range of relationships

“Looking for a sign” by artist Shirin Towfiq on display through Oct. 6


Artwork titled “No, I Never Went Back” by Shirin Towfiq is displayed at San Diego City College. Photo by Shamere Grimes/City Times Media

Shamere Grimes, Multimedia Journalist

Artist and educator Shirin Towfiq gave a guest lecture to San Diego City College art students via Zoom on Sept. 13.

Towfiq, a child of refugees from Iran, began her journey as an artist at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, where she took a photography class. Several of her pieces are on display at the City College Art Gallery through Oct. 6.

Following her first photography class, Towfiq had a life-altering experience at an art exhibit while doing an internship in Ukraine. At the exhibit, she was exposed to a group of contemporary exhibitions and videos for the first time. 

“It was almost like a language that I had never heard before, but I understood it,” Towfiq said. 

Towfiq has a bachelor’s in Art from UC Berkeley, a master’s in Fine Art from Stanford University and is currently pursuing a doctorate at UC Santa Cruz.  

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Towfiq developed a technique to keep herself from falling into the patterns of others.

Charting her artistic process, detailing what she is currently interested in, and talking to her friends about her ideas are some ways she stays focused and inspired.

As Towfiq’s artistic style matured, she began thinking about her relationships with the people around her and her work began to reflect that line of thinking.

One of her past works demonstrating this is called “This Chair for Two,” which is an interactive sculpture that requires at least two people sitting on it.

Towfiq described an upbringing where those around her cared more about assimilating and being American than being Iranian. As an adult she embraces her Iranian heritage, which is influential in many of her pieces.

Towfiq’s solo art show currently being displayed at City Gallery has many works that reflect cultural, communicative, and interpersonal relationships including “Remnants,” “No, I Never Went Back,”  and the namesake of the show “Looking For A Sign.”

Even with a gallery full of art, Towfiq said she doesn’t yet consider her artistic journey settled.

“My journey is always continuing,” Towfiq said.