Enduring Power exhibition sparks round table discussion

Senses Cultural’s newest exhibition, Enduring Power: the Middle Eastern and Iranian Woman’s Story, opened Oct 15th, 2014 in Davis, CA. These 44 images from 7 female photographers, curated by photographer Sina Araghi, were met with a great response of attendees. The reception also included a round-table dialogue led by keynote speaker Samina Ali. The opening reception, hosted by Senses Cultural founder Tata Monfared, was held at the University of California at Davis, at the UC Davis Alumni Center.

There were many notable academics and guests present at Wednesday’s opening, bringing great observations and insight to the round table discussion. Keynote speaker Samina Ali posed the simple but thought-provoking question, “what first comes to mind when you think of a Middle Eastern, Muslim or Iranian woman?” As an activist and artist herself, she easily spoke on the matters and themes that were present in the photographs of Enduring Power, and lead the discussion that followed her speech.


Ms. Delaine Eastin, former Superintendent of Education for California, noted that “when women are permitted to fully participate in the decision making for their society, there is a fundamental shift in values.” She notes that the emphasis shifts to focus on preschool through higher education, caring for the elderly, and the family unit. This all begins, she states, “simply with education.” Her reflections were personal and honest, revealing “I was the first person in my family to complete higher education, and it changed my life entirely.”

Natasha Owen, of the Honoree council of the Russian Federation of Sacramento, provided wonderfully insightful and intelligent contributions to the discussion as well. She observed that “we go through our days like ostriches – to the grocery store, to the pool, out to dinner. We often forget of the cost we pay worldwide to be a woman.”

The discussion also heard comments from about a dozen other attendees with their reactions to the photography and Ms. Ali’s question, including board member and professor Randi Hagerman, and photographer Paul Maska.


This roundtable discussion was fueled by the powerful works of Razan Alzayani, Laura Boushnak, Boushra Almutawakel, Hagar Sobeea, Hamideh Zolfaghari, Maryam Saeedpoor, and Sara Sasani. These talented women hail from Iran, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Kuwait, and presented powerful stories of education, individuality, familial relationships, societal restraints, and bold bravery. Their photographs have appeared in many publications and received dozens of awards, and collectively were a stunning look into the struggles and victories of women in the Middle East and Iran.


Enduring Power: The Middle Eastern and Iranian Woman’s Story will be on display at UC Davis’ Alumni Center until November 30th.


For coverage of this story in Farsi, please visit our Farsi language website by clicking here 

written by Silvana Gargione

Thank You, from Founder Tata Monfared

We just celebrated the opening of “Enduring Power, “ the exhibition of Middle Eastern women photographers last night, Wednesday October 15, at UC Davis Alumni Center with great participation from family, fans and friends.

For this exhibition and for the very first time, we collaborated with women artists and their media organizations in the Middle East in bringing together the collection of work with their stories. The pictures represent stories about lives of women captured in moments through the clear lenses of these photographers’ cameras. These photographers illustrate the lives and surroundings of women in their communities.

As the executive director of Senses Cultural, it is my honor to present this truly collaborative project by illuminating the creativity of women artists in Middle East and sharing their stories with style and intelligence.

I am thankful for the keen participations of a number of high executives and professional women and men in support of this monumental educational art project. I was thrilled to hear their positive views and feedback around the friendly conversations at the conference room after hearing a talk presented powerfully by our keynote speaker , Samina Ali.

We enjoyed listening to insights form Ms. Delaine Eastin, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a powerful force behind women raising their professional status through education. We also heard supportive feedback from other individuals and UC Davis professors. Professors included our honoree board member Professor Randi Hagerman and the heartfelt observations of Ms. Natalia Owen from the Honoree Council of The Russian Federation in Sacramento. Their interviews and observations will be posted on our blog soon.

Thanks to the entire team of senses contributors for their commitment and hard work in making this Exhibition possible.

I am humbled by the help and dedication of Sina Araghi, the exhibit curator, and for all the hard work and coordination he has offered working with the Senses Cultural team.

It is our great pleasure to have the talented journalist and column writer, Mr. Abolhasan Mokhtabad, with our team as his capable coordination and communications have helped Senses cultural expand their possibilities in a great scale.

My special thanks to Hamideh Zoulfaghari, our world Gold Winner Iranian woman photographer, for sharing her works and assisting Senses Cultural in organizing the collection from Iran.

I need to bring thanks to the whole team of senses artists, designers and writers for their dedications and works with us.

My deepest appreciation goes to the wonderful University of Davis, and the Cal Aggie Alumni Center directors, who assisted us in a keen and organized manner.

Thanks to all of you for your participation yesterday and in the upcoming days, and for bringing support to our mission of building bridges between cultures and to bring more understandings to our world.

With your support we will be able to take this exhibition to different universities in California, and beyond.

Thank you,

Tata Monfared, Senses Cultural Founder