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In art, as in all industries, women currently make up an alarmingly small percentage of the total revenue share. This is true even though the total number of women artists likely outweighs the number of men in the space, and statistics show that more women are educated in art than men. Women have long been kept on the side rails, and it has taken humanity centuries to come to a point where the conversation surrounding feminism and gender quality is now starting to take shape. However, even in the modern era, this topic is often considered controversial, provocative, or even unacceptable in some parts of the world.
As a result, women often get the short end of the stick. However, in many cases, women that experience these gross inequities become stronger and advocate for change. One such example of this is artist Roya Ghassemi (r0yart). Raised in northern Iran, she was born into an oppressive culture that treats women as second-class citizens. However, Roya wasn’t going to make peace with it, instead standing up to become a strong-willed feminist with a motive to go out and help other women find their freedom.
Despite leaving the oppressive Iranian culture behind when she moved to Germany in her early 20’s, Roya knew her goal of starting her own art business and eventually mentoring women would not be easy; nevertheless, she went along with it because it is her passion and path in life.
With determination and confidence in her abilities, Roya continues to inspire and mentor young (and old) women to become the best versions of themselves. She does this through 1 on 1 and group conversations and by helping them find their way in the arts. However, Roya’s efforts weren’t just about teaching or encouraging women to participate in arts, but also to gain confidence in their abilities and be proud to have something beautiful to share with the world.
As anyone would expect, the journey has not been easy for Roya. Over time her story has brought her up and down many times, especially as Roya faced the passive assault on her human rights before immigrating to Germany. Despite these inherent challenges, her love for Persian art and its history continues to grow stronger. “Just because the country of Iran is misguided by the current regime and leadership to bash women and remove our chances for equality, does not change the beauty of Persian history and culture, says Roya, “and I am hopeful that in time Iran will become a country that respects all people equally.”
Along with being a strong and determined feminist, Roya has also developed a signature style of work in portraiture. Her style has been hugely popular, with daily occurrences now of “copy-cat” artists attempting to profit from her brand. Her early work in physical artwork connected her with some influential members of society and helped her gain a network that has continued to benefit her career and help spread her story around the world.
Roya’s desire to live in the West comes from the more pervasive perspective of fairness, and equality. She explains “There is no place on Earth where people are not judged based on their gender, race, or religion to some extent, however in the West, these issues are taken much more seriously and great strides have been made and continue to shape these societies. I want to continue to be an active participant in these conversations and I can do this best where my voice will be heard.” Roya mentioned that she loves several countries in Europe and that she also has her eye set on The United States as a potential future place of residency, as she continues to look for an avenue to add value to society and contribute to what eventually may become an ideal environment. A place where she can work alongside strong women and balanced men to achieve important mutual goals.
Roya will continue to spread the message of hope and kindness, always remembering the lessons she learned from her early controversies. She constantly leverages avenues to mentor young women to be better versions of themselves and make society a better place. She hopes to be a shining example to others and a beacon of hope to many.