The U.S. and Iranian governments may be at odds. But Iran’s people were warm and curious when an American came armed with a camera.
They included a young woman sitting on a brick wall. Her pink fingernails and tennis shoes match her hijab’s non-traditional color. A man smiles. His full grey mustache curls toward his cheek. A woman walks. Her traditional black chador billows in the wind.
In May 2015, Sally Bjork, photographer at the U-M Department of the History of Art’s Visual Resources Collections, joined a 16-day tour through Iran with the support of the Department’s Freer Fund. It was led by Margaret Cool Root, U-M Professor of Near Eastern and Classical Art and Archaeology, for the Archaeological Institute of America.
“I was struck at how friendly people were, the vibrancy of the colors the beauty of the art and design; it was an overwhelming positive experience” Bjork says.
This could be seen in centuries old mosques, and in the jelly-plastic open-toed wedges bedecked with bows worn by a young women posing with friends before a night on the town.
Bjork’s images are celebrated in the exhibit “This, too, is Iran.” It is presented through Nov. 13 in the International Institute Gallery, 1636 School of Social Work Building. She will lead a discussion at 1 p.m. today (Nov. 2) in the International Institute.
“‘The people can get along even if the governments cannot’ was a phrase I heard uttered, in one form or another, time and again,” Bjork says.
The exhibit depicts monuments, artworks, urban and rural scenes, landscapes and people. The 8,000 images will be available to the university and beyond via the U-M Digital Library.