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When she was five years old, Shahla's father
stopped on a Tehran street in front of an
artist's studio. This revered doctor bent down
and pointed in the window, When you grow up,
Shahla, you will be a great artist.
Life has a way of always bringing you back to
your passion and your destiny.
And so it has been for Shahla Dorafshan.
After receiving a college degree in chemistry,
then came teaching, and starting a family.
Exactly 20 years after standing in front of that
artist's window in Tehran with her father,
Shahla stood there again.
But this time, she walked in the door, picked up
a brush, and her soul took flight.
Shahla moved to the United States in 1983, four years after the revolution and the start of the war between Iran and Iraq. During the ensuing decades, she painted in various mediums, from charcoal and pencil, to watercolors, moving to oils, and now acrylic. Ever broadening her search for technique and artistic expression, Shahla continued to attend universities, colleges, workshops led by esteemed teachers, and private lessons. Her multi-cultural life and speaking four languages gives her a freedom to express unlike many artists.
Early in 2003, after 30 years of painting, Shahla lost her job and her family went through major transitions. She found solace in her art when she met a group of local San Diego artists who worked with live models. She found her brush making quick, vibrant, and strong strokes which provoked bold images, her imagination ignited. She next moved onto new paints and substrates, stretching the bounds of her art.
At the 2004 Western Federation of Watercolor Societies (11 States) with over 1,500 artists in competition, Shahla won "Best of Show" for her painting Red Rose. In the Fall of 2005, Shahla was chosen to participate in the painting of the Mural for Peace, which is still on display throughout the world. Since then, she has won countless awards and shown her work in solo and group exhibitions, galleries, and was featured at The Museum of Living Artists in San Diego.
In 2009, Shahla joined artists Richard Messenger and Ellen Dieter to form ERS Collaborations. Over the next year, the three of them jointly painted 14 portraits of local arts leaders, with their creations chosen to hang in a solo show at the Museum of the Living Artist.
In 2011, heart failure struck Shahla and she had open heart surgery. During her recovery, she felt called to make her passion her priority with her most recent artistic expressions reflecting these changes.
Shahla Dorafshan is an active member of the Oceanside Museum, Museum of Living Artists, Artist Alliance, and Market Street Group.
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