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An Interview with Superstorm Sandy Survivor Goldnar Adili 

Picture of Golnar Adili

Golnar Adili

In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy impacted many artists who live in Brooklyn, NY. Many, like Golnar, experienced damage or total loss to their studio, artwork, supplies and materials. After the storm, Golnar created a photocollage from a journal salvaged from her flooded studio in response to the tragedy. Today, she continues to put the pieces of her past together.

Tell us about your artwork.

I like different mediums and concepts and have very different bodies of work. If I had to summarize my practice however, it would be about processing my anxieties through a craft-intense process which sometimes includes deconstructing and reconstructing images. I love paper and image distortion, repetition and Persian poetry. I work with my own biography mainly. At the moment I’m working with my late father’s archives of letters and documents.

What is your CERF+ story?

Superstorm Sandy completely wiped out my studio which was full of my father’s archive and my own belongings. I had just started my residency at Smack Mellon. I had waited ten years to take all of the archive of documents, books, and audio material to start unpacking and looking at them there. It was devastating to see all of this under water. I immediately started looking at different grants to recover and came across CERF+ through the New York Foundation for the Arts. They were so quick to help and after awhile came and spoke to me to make sure all was good.

A volunteer drying Golnar’s father’s letters in her studio after Sandy.

Where are you in your recovery process now?

I was able to digitize everything from my father’s archive, letters and sketchbooks that I could salvage. Now I’m working with these images and text in my artwork.  

How did you transition to a new studio space after Sandy?

Smack Mellon put us in a temporary space at that time. Then I didn’t have a studio for awhile and did a few residencies. At this moment my studio is in my home.  

What are you working on now?

I’m doing a residency at the Center for Book Arts here in New York City and I also have a six month-old baby! I’m taking workshops at the Center and getting acquainted with making books and related materials and process, which I’m enjoying very much. I would say I’m continuing to work with my father’s archives, but realistically I don’t have very much time left given all that I’m working on and taking care of my new family. I have a piece up at the International Print Center in Chelsea now and will be having a show in October at Nurture Art here in Brooklyn.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your recovery?

The fact that I received so much support both from friends in the form of help, and from organizations such as CERF+ gave me a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude. This allowed me to delve into my recovery process with much energy and momentum. I achieved more than I would have without the storm, I think. It was an energizing experience to see so many entities came to help.

Based on your experiences in Superstorm Sandy, what would you have done differently in your studio practice to protect yourself and your work?


I would completely evacuate my studio in the anticipation of a storm. I would insure my work entirely if I financially could.

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