Leyla Nejad
Artist / Teacher

Cultural Artists Spotlight: April 3 – April 16, 2019

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I am an artist who over the years learned that I love different categories of art and I see many pieces of art in me; when they come together they act like a complete puzzle. I grew up with photography, but soon I started to reach out to interior designing and decoration. From my mom I learned cooking, sewing, knitting, embroidery, and drawing, and from my dad I learned gardening and repairing household things. Most importantly I learned from my mom to be a teacher; even though she didn’t work outside of the home, all the kids in our family agreed that she was an excellent teacher, especially in math. I wanted to be a teacher when I was nine and now I’ve been a teacher for 20 years. I graduated with a major in Photography and Art from a university in Iran and got my TV/Theater/Film makeup degree shortly after that.

Iran, the country where I grew up and spent most of life, is a very beautiful and mysterious place that I realized I wanted to explore and take photos of — so I got my Tour Leadership Degree and started to travel. I worked as a photojournalist and was blessed to have many years of traveling around Iran, like travel with Nomads! When I moved to America I continued my path as a teacher and photojournalist. Then I realized I needed to learn about cinema so I went to college where I made my short film “Shackled” that was recognized in the Valley Film Festival’s final list. You can read my interview in the Los Angeles Daily News about my short film “Shackled” here.

Now I teach multiple public and private classes in which people can learn art in a very fun and practical way.

How did you first become interested in art?
I don’t think I can say when became interested in art, somehow it was Art that found me! I remember when I was a kid I loved to create things like a flower or a doll. I was very curious, so I knew if I looked carefully at someone doing the artwork, I would be able to learn it fast and easy. Still I love to see and explore the infinity of Art.

How can art enrich a community, and what are some ways people can become engaged with art in Burbank?
Art in any way and shape is something that gathers people together. Art is something that gives everyone some level of joy–and what is better than enjoying life together? A community is stronger if we know how to find each other and how to live peacefully together, and art can be the foundation of all these gatherings and direct us to have a better and happier community. I have lived in many cities, but the City of Burbank is one of the most outstanding I know. There is a special connection between the city and its people that I believe makes it stronger and better. I believe if the City can create even more group activities and people engage more, we can have an even stronger and more successful community.

If you could share with our community one thing about art, what would it be?
Art is my life and I love to share my life and happiness with other people. It’s all about giving and receiving, and I love to teach what I know about art. I receive the comfort, satisfaction, and the smile after someone realizes they are an artist themselves and loves her or his art piece.