Maryam Ashkanian’s Sleep Series Reveals One’s True Self.

Maryam Ashkanian's Sleep Series hero IIHIH

Artist Maryam Ashkanian’s Sleep Series are soft sculptural handmade pillows which feature line art embroidery that depict people deep in sleep.

Maryam Ashkanian’s Sleep Series

Created by Iranian artist Maryam Ashkanian, the Sleep Series was inspired by the notion that we become who we really are when we’re asleep. Working from photographs Ashkanian creates drawings of the sleeping people which she then embroiders onto her handmade pillows.

With a Bachelor’s degree in painting and a Masters Degree in Graphic Design, her work has been shown as part of group shows globally and she’s had several solo shows in Antwerp and Tehran.



Because the pillows are stuffed, the sewn on portraits are subject to puckering which alters the image with both light and density, adding yet another dimension.

sleep series soft sculpture

“I am really interested in sleeping people and I want to explore what they see in their dreams. I also believe they are in a different land or a different life. For me, when I start to sleep I really find myself in the middle of nowhere; in my utopia. I change into another person, or my real character, without a mask.” Depicting her subjects as soft sculptures that are made into pillows is a natural way for Ashkanian to represent the intimacy of watching a sleeping person as they dream. “Pillows are a metonymy of a dream,” she says. “Every person has a close relationship with his or her pillow, it is very, very personal.”

textile art

sleep series soft sculptures

Maryam tells The Creators Project, “In dreaming, we are observers who stare into the farthest, most terrible and wonderful places, and we come back to the real world with these exclusive experiences.”

Below is a video where Katayoun Pedrami talks about Maryam’s 2015 solo exhibit of her Sleep Series the Padrami Gallery:

Iranian artist Maryam Ashkanian

A graduate of Art in Graphic Design and Art in Painting in Iran, Maryam has held solo exhibitions in Iran for the last four years, as well as being exhibited around the world from Dubai to Mexico, and from England to Greece.

Maryam Ashkanian 

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