Tata Monfared’s wide-ranging life and career activities have all been governed by an abiding passion to be a bridge-builder across boundaries of country, culture, politics and time. Toward that end, she has filled a number of roles that have now found common purpose and expression in the creation of Senses Cultural.
For more than 20 years, Monfared has dedicated herself to her passion of sharing her rich Iranian culture with the West. Her vision has always been guided by a desire to achieve an ever more peaceful and healthy environment in which cultures can enrich each other with their unique gifts and histories. Founding Senses Cultural became the perfect vehicle to manifest that vision.
In 1997, Monfared launched a website featuring bilingual books for children, in English translation from the original Persian. This effort grew into the company TM4, which promoted Iranian language and culture to Iranian-Americans and published greeting cards that showcased the artwork of expatriate Iranian artists. In 2003, TM4 was honored to receive a letter from the director of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts, expressing his appreciation and support for its work of introducing Iranian art to the U.S.
Publisher and CEO
Senses Magazine began as a project of TM4, conceived as an art and luxury lifestyle publication that would share the creations of great minds and big hearts. Senses coupled art and fashion content with social conscience, in an opulent print format. Five issues were published from 2006–2008.
Among Senses magazine’s many accomplishments were published articles about international nonprofit Project Hope’s health work in the Dominican Republic, which also provided subscribers an opportunity to donate through subscription cards. Another issue told the story of how AIDS orphans in Tumaini, Kenya started a blog to tell their own stories to the world.
Senses also promoted the ground-breaking Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, to which Ms. Monfared attracted significant financial support for research and translation into Arabic. This six-volume interdisciplinary reference work was published in 2003 and is online with supplementary content at the University of California, Davis website.
Senses began its series of cultural exchanges by partnering with the London Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies (LMEI/SOAS) to present an event with writer Reza Aslan in May 2011. Dr. Aslan spoke about his most recent book, “Tablet and Pen,” a collection of powerful Middle Eastern literature that is little-known in the English-speaking world.
From 2005 to 2010, Monfared worked with the University California, Davis to promote its Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies Program (ME/SA). She served on the ME/SA’s advisory board as the program became first a minor, then a major area of study. She collaborated on bringing presentations by the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi and writer Dr. Reza Aslan to the campus. In addition, she was instrumental in funding an Iranian speaker series in 2009, and in securing core funding to establish Arab studies in ME/SA in 2010. She cultivated an expanding relationship between UC Davis and the United Arab Emirates, laying the groundwork for a future environmental studies center in Dubai.
Senses Cultural Projects
In June 2012, Senses Cultural produced the exhibit “HeART of Iran,” a display featuring the creative works of almost 50 Iranian and Iranian-American artists. Produced at the invitation of a state senator, HeART of Iran hung in the Governor’s Hallway at the California State Capitol.
Currently, Senses Cultural is promoting the non-profit organization BYkids and conducting an international fundraising campaign for its next project in Afghanistan. Founded by Pulitzer-nominated journalist and filmmaker Holly Carter, BYkids is a global movement that uses storytelling through film to inform, engage and inspire action. It provides children around the world with training and video cameras to make short documentaries about their lives.
Senses is proud to be helping BYkids raise awareness of critical human issues and promote global understanding and social engagement. Senses Cultural sponsored a festival of BYkids films at the University of London in November 2012, in partnership with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus. In October 2012, Senses brought Ms. Carter and two films to enthusiastic audiences at both a private screening and a packed house at the nonprofit International House in Davis, California.
Individuals and institutions that value giving voice to underrepresented cultures are invited to contact Senses Cultural. Together, we will produce and support projects that create cross-cultural understanding and tolerance.
Those wishing to learn more about Tahereh Monfared, can download a pdf version of her biography and recent ventures.