Interview Subjects

Producer anticipates interviewing master calligraphers, experts, artists, and scholars for this film.

Maryam Ekhtiar

Maryam Ekhtiar

Currently Curator in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Maryam Ekhtiar began working at the museum in 2003 as a specialist in the field of nineteenth Persian art and culture, calligraphy, and later Persian painting. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at New York University in 1994 and has worked and taught at various museums and universities, namely the Brooklyn Museum, New York University, and Swarthmore College. At the Brooklyn Museum she worked closely with Dr. Layla Diba on the groundbreaking 1998 exhibition, “Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch 1785-1925” and its accompanying catalogue. Dr. Ekhtiar was a key member of curatorial team involved in the extensive reinstallation of The Met’s galleries of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, which opened in 2011 and co-editor of the catalogue of masterpieces from the museum’s collection of Islamic Art. In addition, she co-edited Art of the Islamic World: A Resource for Educators which was released in 2012 and has organized several exhibitions and written articles and lectured extensively in the fields of Iranian art and contemporary art from the Middle East. Her latest book, How to Read the Art of Islamic Calligraphy, was published by The Met in 2018.


Pouya Jahanshahi

Pouya Jahanshahi

Pouya Jahanshahi is an Iranian-American Graphic Designer, curator and educator. He received his MFA in Graphic design and Integrated Media, from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Under the mentorship of Ed Fella and Lorraine Wild his thesis research focused on the global development of what he has termed Hybrid Visual Cultures: where cross-pollination of cultures have resulted in the birth of new visual realms. He is currently an Assistant professor of Graphic design at Oklahoma State University, and the new MFA Program Coordinator. Meanwhile working with a broad range of cultural organizations and clientele under XpatStudio. He is the co-founder of Pasaj Collaborative and Local-Not-Local art and design collaboratives, and his co-curated 20x20 Posters for Peace collection is currently being exhibited internationally. When time permits, he pursues his hobbies of Persian calligraphy, silk-screening and concrete poetry.


Pouran Jinchi

Pouran Jinchi

Born in Mashhad, a sacred shrine city in Iran, Jinchi became attuned early in life to the ways architecture, objects, decoration, and the written word can be imbued with symbolic power. This awareness is threaded throughout her body of work, which explores the dense intersectionality of literary and pictorial narratives. As a student at George Washington University, Pouran earned a degree in civil engineering. Though her studies honed her analytical mind, she ultimately decided to pursue a career in the creative field. Trained as a classical calligrapher in Iran, Pouran went on to study art at UCLA and the Art Students League of New York. Drawing on this varied training, Pouran developed her own artistic approach. Her attention to methodology stems from a background as a mathematician; her formal approach reflects a creative tension between the rigid control of traditional Islamic calligraphy and the fluid spontaneity of Western abstract painting.


Simon Rettig

Simon Rettig

Simon Rettig is the Associate Curator for the Arts of the Islamic World at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. He previously worked at the French Research Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul and the Freie Üniversität in Berlin. Rettig received a BA from the École du Louvre in Paris and his MA and Doctorate from the Université de Provence Aix-Marseille I, France. Between 2012 and 2016, he was the curatorial fellow for the arts of the Islamic World at the Freer and Sackler. Rettig curated the exhibition Nasta‘liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy (2014), The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran (2018), and was the co-curator with Massumeh Farhad of The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (2016). In 2020, he served as the in-house curator in charge of the exhibition Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul. His current projects include the preparation of an exhibition on the Great Mongol Shahnama (scheduled for 2024) and a monograph on the Freer’s celebrated Khusraw and Shirin manuscript.