In today’s social media-dominated world, we often hear the term “influencer” being associated with content creators who have large followings, PR partnerships, brand deals, and receive gifted products and services. While these influencers play a role in shaping consumer behavior and trends, concerns are mounting about the authenticity and oversaturation in this influencer landscape.
A true influencer, however, is not solely defined by their presence on social media. A genuine influencer makes a meaningful impact on society, contributing to cultural shifts and change. In this context, artists can be seen as some of the original influencers. Art, throughout history, has been a powerful vehicle for altering perspectives, instilling values, and translating human experiences across time and space.
The visual arts have a rich history of serving as a means of expression and connection. Artists, each with their unique voice, tools, and experiences, create artwork that transcends their personal boundaries. Once shared with the world, their creations evolve and take on new meanings. Art becomes a story or message that society interprets and connects with on various levels.
One such artist is Bita Mokhtar Masoumi, a contemporary visual designer and founder of the Recycled Painting movement. Her innovative approach involves repurposing discarded packages and wastepaper as canvases for her art. Bita’s journey and technique developed organically in response to her life experiences. Her artistic endeavors took a new direction when she faced the loss of her father at the age of 17. This loss triggered a significant shift in her work. Painting became a therapeutic outlet for her grief, a means of expressing emotions, and a way to regain control over her thoughts. She utilized readily available scrap materials, regardless of their intrinsic value, seizing those moments of inspiration.
Bita’s unique twist on this concept involves merging mixed media artwork with eloquent poetry in her native language, Farsi. Her life experiences and emotions inspire the stories behind each piece. Her artwork touches on profound topics such as life and death, war, sexuality, growth, pain, femininity, discrimination, and immigration.
Bita’s exceptional and distinct style has gained recognition through accolades and exhibitions in prestigious international galleries. Her work has been featured at Seyhoun Gallery and Orenda Artwork Gallery. She also authored a book titled “Yesterday Images, Today’s Graphic Design,” published by Tehran’s Printing and Publishing Organization of The Ministry of Culture.
Through her art, Bita challenges the conventional notion that art is a luxury limited to the privileged few. She believes that art is limitless and has the potential to drive change. By transforming discarded waste materials into canvases for her creations, she prompts her audience to reconsider their perceptions of beauty.
Bita’s work also raises awareness about a significant social and environmental issue—food waste. Her artwork serves as a silent protest against food waste, drawing attention to the urgent need for open discussions and innovative solutions to this problem.
The impact of visual arts on society is undeniable. Creative thinking for social change can stem from various sources, including musicians, journalists, and visual artists. Visual arts not only provide inspiration and pleasure but also stimulate dialogue on critical issues. History has shown that visual art often reflects the spirit of the times and offers insights into societal landscapes.
Bita Mokhtar Masoumi’s work embodies the essence of a modern-day “influencer.” In a world facing challenges such as food and resource scarcity, her audience is compelled to consider their own footprint and impact. Artists have a unique ability to touch on sensitive and controversial topics without making explicit statements. Visual art encourages individual interpretation and sparks fresh perspectives in viewers. Even if the audience doesn’t all arrive at the same conclusion, the artist has succeeded in provoking new ways of thinking about the subject.
Additionally, visual artists serve as bridges between diverse lived experiences and cultures. Artists often possess a mindset that transcends societal constraints, and their work allows people to glimpse the world through another’s perspective. Exposing audiences to works by exceptional artists like Bita fosters values of diversity, unity, and solidarity. It enhances mutual understanding, respect, and curiosity, which are essential elements of social development.
Furthermore, the Iranian community contributes significant value to the American economy. Coming from a country marked by prolonged conflict, they bring a deep appreciation for things often taken for granted. Iranians prioritize family bonds and exhibit cultural sensitivity, which can be a refreshing presence in the fast-paced Western lifestyle.
Experiencing different perspectives broadens our understanding of the world and nurtures creative thinking. This process gives birth to new ideas and propels our evolution forward. Bita Mokhtar Masoumi’s art is a testament to the transformative power of visual arts and their enduring influence on society and culture.