Who is Ali Rouhfar
Ali Rouhfar was born in Tehran, Iran in March 1949. He started showing interests in calligraphy and taking lessons from his grandfather at the age of 13. However, he stopped 6 month later due to death of his grandfather and calligraphy master.
After several years, he participated in a calligraphy contest in greater Tehran at age of 17. He received the 3rd prize despite not having practiced. His performance in the contest was a great honor for his school and motivated him to resume his work.
He graduated from college majoring in Economics, Business, and Finance. He continued his studies toward a PhD but ceased his studies due to financial challenges. However, he continued his study in the same field. He stated that the major he was doing can be continued without going to school. He also mentioned that he loves to learn to understand the world and expanding knowledge towards awareness not learn to earn degree. Ali continued his studying in economic theories and wrote 2 papers about the post modernism in economy.
He improved his calligraphy skills and became a member of Iranian Calligraphers Association, studying under 2 masters and met other calligraphy masters. He learned from them and became interested in studying post-Islamic Iranian history and calligraphy as well.
Ali and his family migrated to the United States seeking medical treatment for a severely ill family member in 1990. This was a sudden move that had a tremendous impact on his family in all aspects; physically, emotionally and financially.
During the following 5 years of medical treatment and hardship, calligraphy was his getaway to heaven. It was his mental sanctuary where he could connect with his spiritual being and see the light of hope. Despite the difficulty, he didn’t give up and faced this hardship. He repeated to himself ‘This is the beginning of something new.”
He held a calligraphy show in 1992. This was the first time in the history of Seattle that Persian calligraphy was presented publically. The positive reaction of the community to his art encouraged Ali to expand his work despite the many difficulties in his life.
Once again, he found his strength in his passion for calligraphy. He felt this was his calling from God to display his art and evangelize the virtues of calligraphy to his new community in the United States.
In 1997, an event marked a turning point in his life as a calligrapher. "I was setting up my work for a show when a man came to me, stared at one of my works and said a deep sentence and left. That influenced me in a way that I could look at this art in a whole new level. He conveyed a message that I needed to hear to view this calligraphy from a different perspective.”
This event and a meeting he had with a philosopher led him to re-examine the lives of past calligraphers. He began learning about calligraphy on a new level. He had been a long-time reader of Rumi. However, after these events, he began studying Rumi verses in more depth and felt his new mission was to incorporate Rumi’s messages in his work. Ali began thinking of his work as “Mystic calligraphy.”
The beginning of 2000 was a new chapter in his life as the community was getting to know him and he was becoming more active in it. He was invited for several lectures at different colleges and museums. He was invited to teach at The University of Washington. He offered courses at Middle Eastern Language and Civilization Department. Also he expanded teaching private calligraphy classes. Art galleries began carrying his works. This further encouraged him to swim deeper into calligraphy.
Few art shows and new mode of Persian calligraphy in association with school of thoughts by Rumi was a new window for him too.
As he observed so many aspects of Persian calligraphy, he expanded his research on the history and evolution of Persian calligraphy and its connection with economic change after industrial revolution. The relationship between calligraphy, society and culture fascinated him. He conducted a series of 50 interviews and studied cases where calligraphy was valuable in daily life. His future goal is to share his views on calligraphy as a way of looking and understanding of life. He hopes that these topics will be the subject of his future tasks.
In 2010, he assumed leadership of the Iran Calligraphers Association of North America in Washington State. He dedicated more time to teaching calligraphy and experimenting with different methods of teaching for easier and speedier understanding for students. He finally decided to publish the results of these experiments in two volumes of self-learning instructional books as well as relation between Persian calligraphy and life.
He published his books in 2014 and until 2020 many people all around the world are getting benefits out of these book which encouraging him to publish more of his thoughts and researches in relate to the spirit of calligraphy as he mentioned in one of his interviews with Bellevue college (as seen in U-Tube).