The absolute best ideas are thought out, planned and intentional. That’s what most seem to agree upon, isn’t it? However, local sketch artist Zahra Jahanyfard, who’s been sketching and drawing since she was a little girl, would disagree.
Originally from Iran where she taught at and ran her own studio, Zahra moved to the United States in 2007 to continue doing what she loves most. With a bachelor’s degree in fine art, she moved to Frisco in 2017 with her two daughters and loving husband. Zahra is a teacher and director of education at One River School of Art & Design, as well as a member of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce with Junction Arts, another studio where she teaches.
Her current show, titled “Stop!,” has been on display at One River since November and will continue to be on display until January 10. The show consists of clusters of little sketches that grow in size as they tell the story of COVID-19 on both a personal and collective level. As you walk through the display, you truly can’t help but feel as though you are looking at sketches of your own life over this past year.
All of the sketches began as simple doodles Zahra would make while on Zoom calls after the global pandemic hit. Before she knew it, she had over 350 sketches on her hands. Zahra’s sketches show things as mundane as standing six feet apart at the store all the way to things as exciting as engagement and pregnancy announcements. When asked what her personal favorite was, she happily reported that she got the best laugh out of her sketches showing people weighing themselves (which of course made multiple appearances throughout the show), something I think we can all confess to doing a few times this past year. “It was good for me because I could express my feelings, relax and just doodle. It was peaceful for me. Some of it is just my voice, but through this so many people have said they had similar moments. For me it is interesting to see the audience because I see smiles; I see laughter; I see sadness, and in the end, all of us are in the same boat. It’s not just my experience; the whole world is experiencing the same thing.”
While the pictures are individual and make sense on their own, the real story is told when you soak in all of the sketches as a whole. Not only are they beautiful, they are also true. They’re like miniature stop motion videos that are recapping the year we’ve all had. It’s not just a sketch; it’s a story. It’s a story that the whole world has experienced all at once. There’s happiness, sadness, celebration and loss. This past year has unlocked a new level of empathy in each of us, making us think perhaps we aren’t so different after all.
“I’m a big planner; I love to plan everything. But what I love about this show is that it is very simple and I didn’t plan to have a show. I think that makes me happy and life is about that sometimes. You don’t have to have a plan; the universe will guide you and you need to follow the sign and find your way.” Fortunately for us, Zahra’s show isn’t the only sight to see at One River. She has added a community wall where students can express how COVID-19 has impacted their lives as well. Just as we all experienced this unprecedented year in different, valid ways, Zahra’s students are no different. As a member of the Frisco community, Zahra urges you to go take a look at this wall and even consider adding to it yourself, as we all have personal experiences that someone will more than likely relate to during this unprecedented time.
“I want people to know we are here; they can try new things or take classes with us or come and see our show. I love involving the community in what I do. I feel like it’s not about me or what I am good at; we can all share the talents that we have.” Art is healing for the soul and everyone deserves to experience that to some extent, whether that is going to see Zahra’s show or taking a few of her classes. She is eager to have you as a part of her community. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experience new emotions. Because even after COVID-19 is over, there is still going to be hardship and brokenness in this world. The hard and messy is always going to be there, but lucky for us, so is the art.
Haley Arlington loves her husband, a good cup of coffee and live music, always in that order.