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Omid Mokri at Huma House


Huma House, an art gallery and non-profit that works with currently and formerly incarcerated artists, recently opened up its second gallery exhibition. The current show by Omid Mokri, made over a one year period while Mokri was serving time at Alameda County Jail, ranges from casual sketches of his peers talking on the phone or playing cards to more labored paintings. In one of the large works, a man is wearing a jeweled turban along with his jail uniform as he gazes steadily downward, not quite making eye contact with a would-be viewer. 

Symbols abound in this work—a sacred heart punctured with arrows hovers above the subject’s chest; a black background with horizontal stripes of barbed wire creates a shallow depth of field that seems to pin the man in place. A tattered American flag caught on one section of the wire points to the false promise of freedom that our country purports to offer all of its citizens. The exhibition, and the rich symbology that Mokri creates, provides a palpable testament to art-making as a gateway out of limiting circumstances.

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Photo: Omid Mokri at Huma House. Image courtesy of Huma House.