Amir Fallah: What It Means to be an American is an installation of the artist’s stained and fused glass portrait of an immigrant housed in a domestic structure. It features audio recordings of American immigrants talking about what being an American means to them.
In a gallery space made to look like a domestic structure, this installation incorporates one of Amir Fallah’s stained- and fused-glass portraits of immigrants, entitled Offerings, with the sound piece What It Means to be an American. Fallah investigates the complexities of belonging and otherness in the very place one calls home through an ongoing series of portraits of immigrants from his community in Los Angeles. He depicts his subjects’ bodies surrounded by their possessions and domestic environments while disguising their skin colors and features.
Fallah’s work is of analogously global ancestry, influenced by the pattern and detail of Persian miniatures, the portrayals of class and domestic life of 17th-century Dutch art, and the brashness and saturation of American visual culture. He often uses shaped canvases, referring to portraits in various contexts. The sound piece is a half-hour-long sequence of voices speaking about their experiences living in the United States as immigrants or part of immigrant families. These clips are from Fallah’s interviews with the subjects of his portraits.
Stained glass, fused glass, custom LED light panel, custom aluminum frame, 2017