Artist Profile, By Mimi Weber

In Bozeman High Schools’ Robert and Gennie DeWeese gallery, Sanaz Haghani’s series on sleep insomnia is open to viewers.
The exhibit is both large and simplistic. On the ceiling, long arching printed panels run vertically across the room, the middle of each panel bending towards to floor to form an arch. A solitary couch is positioned under the artwork, presumably for the viewer to lie on their back and observe Haghani’s work.
Perched on the edge of this couch, Haghani explained to me her desire to create a series on insomnia, a daily part of her life since arriving in the United States in 2012.
“Every night when I close my eyes I see these dots and shapes, so I started to follow them,” says Haghani, whose sleep insomnia originates from the difficulties and anxieties she faced as a woman who grew up in Iran.
In her artist profile, Haghani writes, “my works are storytelling. Because I experienced adversity, I can show the feelings and eerie atmosphere surrounding it in my work. My work shows the level of darkness in women’s lives.”
Before studying at MSU, Haghani was the head of the graphic design department at her company, and she struggled to gain the respect of her male co-workers.
“They didn’t follow my rules because I was a woman,” Haghani explains, “it’s a completely different culture. Our government treats women as second class citizens. They always try to force us to believe them, to follow their rules; it’s like a hidden fight in our country.”
Haghani was originally working towards a master’s degree in art history, but found her real passion in printmaking, which she has been studying at MSU.
Haghani explains, “I feel like now, everyone can see me here, and they respect me.”
In her work, Haghani tries to portray not only her experience with insomnia, but also the cultural expectations of women in both America and Iran.
Gesturing towards the layered, printed panels above our heads, Haghani explains, “as women, we learn to hide everything; our emotions, our bodies.”
Haghani works to represent this notion in the dark, secluded imagery on the prints.
Despite continuing to struggle with sleep insomnia, Haghani has taken an optimistic view on the matter.
“I could take some pills,” she explains nonchalantly, “but I don’t really want to do that. I don’t think of insomnia as a problem, really—in some ways, it gave me the idea for my work.”


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