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Going Up the Stairs: A Portrait of an Unlikely Iranian Artist
Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, 2011. Iran. (52 minutes)
Thursday, January 31, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
Handwerker Gallery, Ithaca College

Tickets: Free!
Watch the trailer:


The first sight of Akram, an elderly Iranian woman, clad in a black chador, provides little clue that her internal world is literally bursting with riotous, glorious color.  This gorgeous film showcases the talent of this self-trained Iranian painter as she prepares to exhibit the paintings made upstairs in her home  to the public for the first time.

After discovering painting at age 50, while helping her grandson with his homework, Akram’s talent would not be stemmed nor slowed. Married at age eight to a man some 20 years her senior, Akram’s life as a traditional Iranian woman centered upon her house, husband and children. Initially, she painted when her husband was out, and hid her work under an upstairs carpet. Bisecting the home into two realms, the staircase serves as the transition between public and private space.

The biggest surprise is the paintings themselves, large-scale canvases, peopled with fabulous and fantastical creatures -- peacocks, reluctant bridegrooms, and weeping women -- are all thickly laid on in thick impasto textures of vivid color. When her paintings were discovered, her children organized an exhibition of her work in Paris, but before she can attend her own show, she must first gain her husband’s permission.

Winner at the prestigious Sheffield Doc/Fest, director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's Going Up the Stairs captures the transformation of this singular artist with humor, warmth and a startling amount of joy.

“Truly a masterpiece…” – VOX Magazine

All Handwerker Gallery events are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.; Thursday, 10.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m.; and weekends, noon to 5.00 p.m.. The gallery is closed to the public on Tuesdays unless otherwise specified for an event but can accommodate group or class visits by appointment.


For further information or individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations contact Mara Baldwin at or 607.274.3548. Please make requests for accommodations as far in advance as possible.

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