The sign outside the Watts Towers Art Center | Still from "The Watts Towers Arts Center" ab s11 episode image

Fleeing the Rose Garden: Marjan K. Vayghan Creates Safe Spaces in Los Angeles

Marjan K. Vayghan's "Legacy Crates," a series of transformed art shipping crates, symbolizes her journey from Iran, the land of her ancestry, and her transcultural life and identity in the U.S.

Vayghan's project was based on trauma too. Since her family moved to the US, they have returned every summer to Iran. In recent years, Vayghan had been using her trips back to Tehran to explore her creativity, work with artists there and curate exhibitions that introduced foreign artists' works to Iranians. On August 5, 2009, she was driving to an art gallery in Tehran with her partner when suddenly a man outside the car started yelling at them. He pulled her out of the car and took her away for interrogation. She was interrogated at length by strangers, who undoubtedly worked for the government. Her eyes well up as she describes how, after several rounds of interrogation, verbal abuse and separation from her loved ones, she almost longed for death to come. "I just wanted to see a loved one's eyes one more time before I died." She was released early the next morning, and though she was never actually accused of a specific crime, she fears what might happen to her if she were to return to Iran. Just two days after her kidnapping, she attended the funeral of a childhood friend who was murdered.

Vayghan was profoundly traumatized. After returning to the US, she spent two years hiding inside her closet reading and "geeking out" learning about art theory and poetry. She filled her closet with Persian carpets and cushions, creating a safe, womb-like place of beauty and art to help her heal. Making art also helped her numb the pain. When a local artist gave her several shipping crates he no longer needed, she realized that she could use them to create similar safe places to share with others. "The Breaking the Lass series," she explains, "is about turning fear and anxiety into a therapeutic, creative means of expression." She invites participation. "Sometimes I kidnap people," she explains. "After they have spent time in the crate, they come out feeling happier, not traumatized. I wish I could send a crate to everyone."

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Light & Space

In a world filled with noise, distractions and chaos, a number of artists seek to push the boundaries of perception and experience. The Light and Space movement of the 1960s explored minimalism with a uniquely Californian spin — with a keen attention to the interaction of light and space. Crucially, the materials these artists relied on to create these perceptual experiences emerged from the postwar aerospace industry and its advances.

  • 2020-12-02T13:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-12-02T17:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

The New West Coast Sound: An L.A. Jazz Legacy

Growing up amongst jazz legends within the deep musical traditions of Leimert Park, drummer Mekala Session and his peers grapple with how to preserve this rich legacy—striving to carry forward the tenets that took root in the work of Horace Tapscott and his Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. This is the story of Los Angeles’ emerging generation of community-focused black musicians.This episode of Artbound was produced in partnership with dublab and Storyform.

  • 2020-12-09T13:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-12-09T17:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

CURRENT:LA FOOD

In October of 2019 the city of Los Angeles through the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Institute of Contemporary Art organized a city-wide exhibition of public art and events based around the theme of food. Each artist interpreted a different aspect or issue surrounding food or food systems in the city from climate change, to food access, civic engagement to waste and recycling. Activating public parks throughout the city, artists created works to spark conversation about what it means to live in Los Angeles and how to work together for a sustainable and hopeful future.

  • 2020-12-16T13:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-12-16T17:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-12-20T09:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

How Sweet The Sound: Gospel In Los Angeles

Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late '60s and early '70s, a time defined by political movements across the country. Artists like James Cleveland and Aretha Franklin captured live recordings of the church experience of South Central and the voices and sentiment of the people coming together to give birth to a new gospel sound and the election of L.A.’ s first black mayor, Tom Bradley.

  • 2020-12-23T13:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-12-23T17:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD