Environmental art Helps Empower Rural Women in Qeshm

Women in Salakh village on the Persian Gulf island of Qeshm are beginning an environmental art work, mainly aimed at creating jobs for breadwinner women and meeting educational needs of girl students.

Art works made of pieces of unused materials, such as old cloths, are used to create decorative items and showcased at a gallery in Salakh House of Art.In an interview with the Tehran Times, Tahereh Goorani, the manager of the gallery, said people of Salakh have learnt not to throw away their old cloths. They hand them out to the gallery for making the art works, thus taking a step toward protecting the environment.

“The themes of the art works are women on Qeshm Island, mothers and children, and sea animals,” Goorani, 29, said.

Out of a large number of women who are trained the art work free of charge, fifteen of them are professionally working in the art house and many others work as their second job or filling their free time, she said.Goorani, who is the first member of her family holding a university degree, explained that the House of Art provides all the raw materials, except for glass for the working women and even does the marketing, she stated.

The gallery and the outlet were established about one year ago, in the old part of Goorani’s residential house, she said, adding a room of the house is being utilized as the working place of women. Goorani further explained that she repaired the old part of her house spending her own money she had collected over the past nine years, when she began her work as the principal of a girl high school.

Goorani is doing this job as a teamwork with four of her sisters, one of her brothers, and her mother who supported her in establishing the art house and now her sisters help her in training interested women and doing the art works.Traditional burqa and a kind of traditional doll, dubbed Dokhtolook, which used to be made by grandmothers, are also made and being sold in the gallery, she added.Goorani, is also planning to train girls of the area as local tour guides with the aim of improving women’s self-confidence and creating an atmosphere for the rural women to become acquainted with other cultures.

Early marriage is a ban on girls’ education in the area, she said, adding, about 13 percent of girls in this village become engaged or married before the age of 18. Goorani, who has learned English language, hopes tourists will visit her gallery.

By Naghmeh Mizanian, Tehran Times, December 6, 2016