Images by Teal Thomsen
“I LIKE IT!”
— ARIANA DELAWARI
Born in California, Ariana Delawari is a filmmaker, musician and activist of Afghan heritage. Her award-winning documentary, We Came Home, explores the political and cultural landscape of Afghanistan through personal experience. The film was scored by her first album, Lion of Panjshir, which was recorded between Los Angeles and Kabul in collaboration with master Afghan elder musicians and produced by David Lynch. Ariana’s most recent work, Entelechy, is a short experimental film about a shamanic journey through being, accompanied by her own avant-garde pop electronic score.
Teal Thomsen is a photographer living in LA. She works as Programs Coordinator at The Lucie Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to championing photography. See her portraits, travel and lifestyle photography here.
T-shirts can be all things to people, from a status symbol to a memory trigger. What do they represent to you?
Lately I’ve been really into T-shirts. I like them cause they’re universal and neutral in terms of status, gender, nationality, age – everyone wears T-shirts.
Do you recall your first favorite T-shirt?
Yes, it was white with huge rainbow neon block letters that said “BOLD.” It had a few huge rainbow neon buttons on it too. I was three or four years old when I wore it. I also have a vintage ’70s T-shirt that says “Afghanistan” on it. I’ve had it since high school, and it was and still is one of my favorites.
How would you describe your style?
I like classics. I do like some wild pieces, textiles and colors at times, but I think deep down I like classics. Part of me wants to wear the same thing every day and just dress up fancy for special events. I used to really love getting fancy. I think that once you get to a point where you just want to make your art and be an activist all day, every day, the idea of spending energy on dressing up is not as appealing. I do like special jewelry – especially Turkish jewelry – and I do love fancy heels. I’ve always been into my high heels. I’ve got a tiny bit of Dolly Parton in my soul. I’m most comfortable in jeans, heels, a T-shirt and a leather jacket with some jewelry. I also love when I’m in Afghanistan and I’ve brought like three outfits – I roam around in the same afghan tops and loose pants everyday with a scarf around my neck and tennis shoes. That’s also a great feeling.
What inspires you?
Mystery, courage, resilience, Afghanistan – any nation that I visit usually inspires me – the wilderness, wandering around alone in faraway places, butterflies, theology, my friends, people who can teach me things, the ocean, the fact that every single person is infinite and has infinite potential within, silence. Lately, I’ve been really into indigenous North, Central and South American spiritual practices. I’m really inspired by African wildlife. Dr. Jane Goodall is my biggest living hero. And I’m really inspired by tea. I love tea. I love ancient architecture and places that reverberate with history. I’m really into moghul architecture. I also really really love hot springs and bath houses. I have an obsession with bath houses – Turkish or Korean or Japanese bath houses. I think bathing is a sacred ritual and a kind of prayer if we let it be. Lately, I’ve been really into opera music. I love wandering through LA as if I’m a visitor. I grew up here, but there’s still so much to discover. It’s funny, I used to be inspired by the loudest person in the room. Lately, I’m most curious about the quietest person in the room.
What do you most like about your line of work?
The mystery. The fact that I have no idea where the songs and ideas come from. I get to have a relationship with being alive through expressing myself creatively and connecting with different parts of the world to uncover more mystery, more connection in this beautiful web of experience and art. I like collaborating and growing through each piece. As an activist, I love how many interesting people I get to meet. I have met some deep souls out there in the world. Deep souls doing heavy work. It’s a beautiful thing and very inspiring.
I have a lot of new art to share – music and film work to share with everyone. I’m really excited about it. I have ideas for new work to start on soon as well.