Innovative Arts

Art transforms culture; it shapes us, deepens us, and sustains us. There is, perhaps, no greater time in human history for the revival of old art forms and the innovation of new, visionary ones, offering us a re-contextualization of mainstream culture through a mosaic of different mediums. Art is a ‘captured’ reflection of our space as individuals, and communities, amidst the backdrop of a fast-moving modernity with an uncertain future.

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Art transforms culture; it shapes us, deepens us, and sustains us. There is, perhaps, no greater time in human history for the revival of old art forms and the innovation of new, visionary ones, offering us a re-contextualization of mainstream culture through a mosaic of different mediums. Art is a ‘captured’ reflection of our space as individuals, and communities, amidst the backdrop of a fast-moving modernity with an uncertain future.

From music to dance, from playwriting to poetry, from painting to political performance pieces, and comedic satire—all create new ways of thinking, new modes of learning, and dynamic platforms for storytelling, captivating the human spirit and catalyzing potential. Art often honors our past by creating a record of what has come before, anchoring us for our move into the future, through envisioning that new horizon. By reestablishing context, whether by naming a history, telling a story, or making a community visible, we distinguish ourselves against the often homogenizing effects of globalization and the ongoing assault on arts’ education across educational arenas both near and far.

Arts transform dilapidated and abandoned streets and buildings, they build intercultural understanding by giving a platform to universal human experiences and the beauty of distinct cultural expressions. Art evokes emotion, it plants the seeds for new ideas and critical consciousness, and rallies communities to action in a time when apathy has become the status quo. We at NNF believe that the beauty of art is both a right and a privilege, and our work focuses on democratizing access to the art projects that inspire us each day, bringing together cultures, disciplines, generations, and faiths.

Opening The Box
Feathers of Fire
Radio Dreams
Diaspora Arts Connection
Climbing PoeTree
Mutiny Of Colors

“The necessity for me was to find artistic expression of an experience that threatened my sanity, my dignity and my future.” –Sarah Shourd

Journalist and playwright Sarah Shourd survived 410 days of solitary confinement while imprisoned as a political hostage by the Iranian government from 2009 to 2010. Since her release, Sarah has traveled across the U.S.—driving through snowstorms and snaking through Redwood forests in order to interview dozens of people in the isolation units of our country’s most remote and forbidding prisons. Sarah wove these stories into a play, The Box, about the rare but intimate bonds forged behind walls and the ultimate sacrifice of three exceptional men willing to die if necessary for the simple things the rest of us often take for granted.

Shourd’s play is about human resilience in the face of isolation, the plight of modern-day heroes who are enduring torture inside America’s prisons, the ripple effects of systematic torture, and what it means to be human. It evokes the atmosphere of prison with soundscapes of actual isolation pods, and reenacts common prison protocols that are designed to demean and humiliate. Drawing from her background in Theatre of the Oppressed, Shourd has created a play that shows the human cost of an inhumane practice.

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Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic is a visually breathtaking cinematic shadow play for all ages, created by Hamid Rahmanian, a 2014 Guggenheim fellowship-winning filmmaker/visual artist.

The play unfolds an action-packed magical tale of star-crossed lovers from the 10th-century Persian epic Shahnameh (‘The Book of Kings’), – Zaul and Rudabeh, who triumph at the end against all odds. Rahmanian’s graphics, derived from the visual tradition of the region, will be rendered as puppets, costumes, masks, scenography and digital animation, all of which will come to life in a “live animation” shadow casting technique perfected by shadow master Larry Reed on a cinema-size screen. The play also features an original score by the acclaimed musical team, Loga Ramin Torkian & Azam Ali.

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Hamid (actor/musician Mohsen Namjoo) immigrates to the U.S. to pursue his writing career and the American Dream. Instead, he winds up working at a small Iranian radio station, seeking artistic satisfaction through the esoteric programming he puts together for his radio audience. Meanwhile, the owners of the station try to cash in on Hamid’s only program that they see fit for commercial success — the bringing together of an on-air jam session with Kabul Dreams and their long-time idols, Metallica. The ensuing collision between artistic integrity and crass commercialism resonates with hilarity and a poignant message, as Hamid fights to maintain a balance between his ambitions and his moral compass.

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Diaspora Arts Connection is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that aims to foster deeper understanding and lasting connections among diverse cultural and ethnic groups within the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond through the organization of cultural and artistic events, as well as empowering artists whose circumstances make it difficult for them to express themselves and allowing them a platform for artistic expression.

The organization further aims to help introduce new artists to local and international audiences; to help develop and improve audience appreciation of the arts in its constituent communities through conducting lectures, screenings, readings, and workshops; to produce events that foster deeper understanding of different diasporic cultures within our communities; and to help artists from different parts of the world and cultures to collaborate and produce valuable artistic presentations.

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“Creativity is the antidote for violence and destruction. Art is our most human expression, our voice to communicate our stories, to challenge injustice and the misrepresentations of mainstream media, to expose harsh realities and engender even more powerful hope, a force to bring diverse peoples together, a tool to rebuild our communities, and a weapon to win this struggle for universal liberation.” – Alixa + Naima

 

Climbing PoeTree is the combined force of Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman. Over the last 11 years, Climbing PoeTree has been at the forefront of social and environmental justice movements by harnessing their art as a tool for popular education, community organizing, and personal transformation. Their award-winning performance is composed of dual-voice spoken word poetry, hip hop, and multimedia theatre that dissolves apathy with hope, exposes injustice, and helps heal our inner trauma so that we may begin to cope with the issues facing our communities.

Climbing PoeTree has independently organized 29 national and international tours bringing their performance to thousands of people across the U.S. and abroad from Mexico to the UK, South Africa to Cuba. Their soul-stirring performances have been featured alongside visionary leaders and artists such as Angela Davis, Cornel West, Alice Walker, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Saul Williams, Sonia Sanchez, Naomi Klein, Danny Glover, and The Last Poets, among others.

Innovative educators and performers, Climbing PoeTree’s work appears in high school and university curricula. In that last year alone, they were  selected to present and keynote at the New Story Summit, Scotland; Bioneers National Conference, California; and at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, MA to name a few.  They have lead hundreds of workshops in institutions from Yale University to Rikers Island Prison. They are currently developing a multimedia curriculum derived from their celebrated production, Hurricane Season, that employs art and culture to help learners analyze systems of oppression and resistance, and builds critical consciousness and imagination essential for fundamental social change.

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Mutiny Of Colours is a feature-length documentary about Street Art and Graffiti in Islamic Republic Of Iran. Graffiti and Street Art is illegal and known as a crime in Iran as many other places in the world but the difference is there is no specific penalty for the crime and generally Street art has been mistaken with writing slogans against the government and Satanism.

 

Mutiny Of Colours tells story, life and specially the Art-life of 5 Iranian Street Artists in 4 Episodes. The documentary is based on showing known Iranian artists’ point of view, artworks and idealisms, and the fact that the central message they want to spread is about Peace, Love, Children and Women’s rights.

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