Fatemeh Burnes's "Cut it Out" series uses collaged garment patterns and instructions integrated with layers of oil. When Burnes was a child in Iran, her mother took on additional work sewing garments. She recalls in her statement, "My mother would be sitting with a landscape of exotic imported clothing patterns around her, and she would laughingly remark on how none of the patterns were made to fit her size. We had the common understanding that all the people in the West were thin and tall! I have a picture memory of the beautiful graphs and Latin manuscripts on the sheer patterns. They seemed more significant than the purpose they were intended for." The deconstructed patterns apply not only to beauty standards between cultures, but also the importance of reprogramming systemic biases that express themselves in the form of social, economic, or racial inequality.
Fatemeh Burnes first came to the United States in 1973, spent a five-year period between three continents, and settled in Southern California in 1977. Classically trained in Persian art and verse, Burnes also studied biology, modern Persian poetry, and western artistic practice – including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, art history, and exhibition design – in Iran, Europe, and ultimately in California, where she received her BFA and MFA in art and art history.
Since 1992 Burnes has served as gallery director and curator as well as full-time professor of drawing and design at Mt. San Antonio College. She has curated over 100 exhibitions, authored numerous publications, conducted art-education documentaries, and worked with an international array of artists and art professionals. She has exhibited her own work nationally and internationally since the 1980s.