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'Persepolis: Word & Image' exhibit continues the graphic novel's important Islamic story

By Tania Rivera
On January 22, 2014

The "Persepolis: Word & Image" art exhibit opened on Tuesday morning this week, holding the support from the UConn Reads Steering Community along with Leila Heller Gallery.
The center gallery of the Benton held many photographs, paintings and a hand-stitched quilt that brought the art of words to the audience. Photographs of naked bodies with words etched on the skin in black ink, bringing up the idea of body and soul and how "the soul heals moments." Other photos of Iranian women hung on the walls with their native language written all over their skin and backdrop. One artist focused on political cartoon comics in America, whilst another focused on French comics. Paintings of women with words throughout the backgrounds of the photos caught additional ideas of women in other countries. The artist behind a large painting of a woman's dress used words to highlight and shadow the dress' folds and ruffles. Lastly, a quilt was hung in the gallery that a woman stitched together using her father's photos after he had passed away. Some blocks were used to tell the story of her parents and others were used for letters to family members.
"Persepolis", a two-part graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, was part of the UConn Reads program this academic year. It explores Satrapi's life during and after the Islamic Revolution and is considered to be a coming-of-age novel. The first novel was written and focused on her childhood during the time of the revolution. The second half then focused on her high school career in other countries and the life that followed the war. The novel was later developed into a film that highlighted Satrapi's high-contrast inking from the novel and, although it was in black and white, one part of the film is in color.
Graphic novels have always been around for entertainment or to tell a historical story. Graphic novels themselves bring both visual culture and literary culture together. Words and images brought together are said to assist the reader and interpret the text. Two of the exhibits focused on cartoonists that focused on the commentary to depict events of their time period. The exhibit gave a little history lesson on the combination of words and images. Hieroglyphics is one of the many examples mentioned. There was significance in the 20th century that was included in the exhibit itself about the adaption of words into the art. Aside from that, the Iranian art that decorated the walls was featured for the art of calligraphy that was incorporated into the paintings and photographs. This style of art is considered the noblest of artistic expression in Iranian culture.
Each piece told a story about a different woman, a different country, or a different way of looking at life. The art behind "Persepolis" brought all of the older pieces together.
"The Complete Persepolis" graphic novel is a key novel in art culture and is available in the UConn bookstore.

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