SIAH ARMAJANI



Born 1939 in Teheran, Iran
Coming to the United States from Iran in 1960 at age 21, Siah Armajani earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics in 1963 from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a student, he developed a lifelong passion for the writings of John Dewey, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Walt Whitman as well as an appreciation of the utopian design principles of the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism. "Reading Garden #2", constructed on the grounds of the Joslyn Art Museum as part of the I-80 series, belongs to a group of public projects combining these seemingly disparate influences. His goal was to create a non-monumental public art that "requires each citizen to participate fully in everyday life, and to contribute to public good." Colored red, black, and white plus a "park bench green," his simply fabricated redwood structure had built-in benches, which the artist considered more "neighborly" than chairs. Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall, North of Boston (1914), printed on the wooden frame, required visitors to read as well as invite their individual contemplation while encouraging interaction and community building through conversation. The text reappears in the UNO print editioned entirely by students Jim Hejl, Janet Spring, and William Zuehlke following Armajani's residency September 1 through 3, 1982.




The Poetry Garden
1982; color lithograph on Rives BFK; sheet: 27 x 22 1/2 (68.58 x 57.15); edition of 12