Capital City Arts Initiative

Contrasts: Sogand Tabatabaei and Mariah Vargas

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Contrasts: Tabatabaei and Vargas

May 16 – Sep. 15, 2022
Bristlecone Gallery, Western Nevada College, 2201 W College Parkway, Carson City 

In the Contrasts exhibition, Mariah Vargas’ minimalist sculptures interact with Sogand
Tabatabaei’s intricately patterned collages.

Vargas built highly-crafted large box shapes that she painted white on the outside and then gave them an almost startling hot pink interior. As a feminist, Vargas states, “My work begins as a personal, feminist response to the hyper-masculinity inherent to minimalist art and ends with my dialogue concerned with the space between masculine and feminine social ideals. I use abstraction to contorts realism and literalism and to challenge viewers’ ability to apply gender to an object. Through abstraction and body reference, I challenge the viewer to be comfortable with the things they do not immediately understand. My use of abstraction is not intended to be vague and esoteric. My intention is to challenge the split-second moment in which we assume, define, and understand the world.”

Tabatabaei uses her work to collage the fragments of memories, expectations, and experiences together and to create a new aesthetic to tie those feelings together. She aims for her highly-patterned collages to perform as a documentary movie made from real scenes of life. She said, “As an Iranian, I explore the traumatic experiences, observations, stereotypes, beauties, hopes, and fears within Middle East’s contemporary socio-political climate in my art. Inspired by my cultural background, I often employ folk crafts and patterns and conceptualize them in my artistic practice. In my collage pieces, beautiful heavy patterns decorating a horrific moment speaks to my understanding of politics, prejudices, and contradictions in my homeland.”

Mariah Vargas is a sculptor interested in light as a medium and the reductive simplicity of the minimalist aesthetic. Her obsession with clean, hard-edge lines, feels like a controlled response to contemporary chaos. She was born and raised in Reno, attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and earned a BFA degree in 2020. She remains fascinated in a lifelong relationship with being an object maker. She lives in Reno with her wife.

Sogand Tabatabaei was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. When she was six years old, she found herself in awe at the printed version of the Mona Lisa on the wall of her grandparent’s house. Later, she completed her B.A. thesis paper inspired by Leonardo DaVinci’s thoughts. Tabatabaei finished her B.A. with an emphasis on painting from the Tehran University of Art in 2017. She was awarded the Exceptional Talents grant to join the M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) program in the Tehran University of Art. But, she moved to the US and earned her M.F.A. degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, 2018. She is primarily a collage/installation artist, and most of her works have an interdisciplinary approach including drawing, installation, printmaking, etc. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

Josie Glassberg wrote the essay for the exhibition — available online and in the gallery. Glassberg is a freelance writer whose work has regularly appeared in Double Scoop Art News, the Reno News & Review, and Fibonacci magazine. She attended St. Olaf College for printmaking and enjoys writing about art in the West when she’s not busy with her main gig as a garden teacher. During her free time, Josie likes to swim and hang out with her 9-year-old.

Carlos Ramirez, a Western Nevada College Latino Leadership Academy student, provided a Spanish translation of the show’s wall text.


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2022-05-16 to



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Posted by Kris Vagner

Kris Vagner is Double Scoop’s Editor & Publisher.