Self Portrait, a poem by Forough Farrokhzad called “Life”


Excerpt from an interview by Dinah Tolton

Sareh Khajehnouri is an Iran-born artist whose specialty is creating images that incorporate Persian calligraphy into her own original photography. "Our eyes and ears have been exposed to mostly negatives about Iran," she observes. "I always wanted to show the beauty of my culture and country and demonstrate that it has positives as well."

Gesture, the calligraphy is a poem by an unknown artist


While attending George Mason University, where she ultimately earned her design degree in 2004, Sareh had begun developing pieces incorporating Persian calligraphy as a hobby. For a long time, the idea to represent her culture through the beauty of its calligraphy had been in her mind, but she wasn't quite sure how to showcase it. 

Woman in Veil
the calligraphy spells out women and freedom




In some of her work, Khajehnouri shows women dealing with social, political and personal issues, such as women's rights and cultural identity. The freedom or free stuff that people may not even realize they have in other countries. "I believe my work about women is about self-expression. It shows the reality of what is really happening In Iran, and women seeking freedom. My work shows that women are being targeted for not who they are as a person, but because they are women."

Sareh Khajehnouri was born in Tehran in 1979, and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was nine years old. After graduating, she launched Sareh Design. There, her creative work is focused on showing images of women and their expressions in the modern era mixed with ancient culture.

Gesture, the calligraphy is a poem by an unknown artist


Lost, red calligraphy overlaid to mix traditional and modern


Faryad, calligraphy overlaid to mix traditional and modern


Freedom, the calligraphy spells out women and freedom


The pieces from Sareh's collection have special significance, since the calligraphy on each is verse written by a prominent poet. She says that she expresses her feelings and emotions through her art.

"I mainly like to work with close-up faces of women, and focus on the beauty of their sad reality. Black and white photos I took of children in Iran reminded me of my childhood. Persian art by itself is so beautiful and vibrant. I get motivated by just looking at the images. The ancient mosques, the calligraphy and handwork, all inspire me to continue working with calligraphy."

Two Faces, the calligraphy reads women and goal


Sareh Design has been featured in print and online in various Persian and American magazines, including an interview by Voice of America in 2006. She describes her work as "conceptually expressive" graphic design. •

To see more of her work, visit Sareh Design