#Commute at The 25 Project

Recently I was asked to join 25 artists to help raise funds for the DC Arts Center. It was called THE 25 PROJECT and I submitted a piece from my on-going #Commute series. The piece is 5 feet x 5 feet and I was thrilled to see it hanging with some really dope local artists. And if anyone wants to adorn their walls with it – hit me up!

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~ Video: Being Zoroastrian ~

“Being Zoroastrian” is a short film I completed in April 2013 to fulfill the requirements of my master’s thesis in Visual Communication.  The piece focuses on my journey to gain a deeper understanding of my Zoroastrian faith, community and heritage. I needed to take this journey for myself but along the way I realized it has themes that many people can relate to. Like many creative endeavors, this project is far from perfect or completely realized. So I encourage your comments, questions and thoughts – I’d also love to hear your stories of identity, belonging, faith, loss, love and hope within the context of “Being Zoroastrian.” Thanks for watching and please include your comments or send them directly to me at mail@kainazamaria.com.

A few people have already noted that I do not differentiate between Parsi Zoroastrian and Irani Zoroastrian. I realize this is an important distinction but in order to keep the piece concise to a wider audience I decided to solely focus on my story and my family’s story. It was not an oversight but an editorial decision on my part. There are many nuances that I would have liked to go further into but again these are decisions you have to make in the editing process.

If you are curious to read more, FirstPost.com has done a Q&A piece on the video.

Here are some comments people have shared with me about the piece:

Just saw your video “Being Z”  and loved it  — brought a lump in my throat and my eyes welled up — you have captured all the essential history, traditions and current challenges so well and so poignantly, in this short piece.  Well done!

10 seconds in, the chills. 20 seconds in, tears. 60 seconds in, i see ME akward at age 9 and i am cracking up. Absolutely beautiful. this will be treasured for years to come.

Breathtaking, amazing, and so OUR story. Thank you for being a voice for all of us.

This is such a great video and explains “us” so well. You rock.

This is just an amazing video. Parts of our past, present and future.

I feel like there needs to be more people like you creating films like this, to help create awareness to our religion, who we are, and our beliefs. My mom is from India, my dad from Iran, so not only have I had the “zoroastrian” disconnect with the rest of the world, I am torn between iranis and Parsis. I always wanted to bring awareness to this, that we should unite as one, no one should feel confused, especially in their own faith. But what you created was an amazing start. I hope it goes viral:)

Just viewed your amazing video and it brought tears to my eyes. I could relate to your aunt’s pain of being away from her parents. And to the little girl that just wanted to fit in. Its brilliantly made and the world needs to see it.

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~ Featured Profile: The Herald Magazine ~

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~ On Assignment: Poverty In America ~

If it was just me, I would have [given] up a long time ago. Tracy Boggs, single mother of two in Reading, Pa.

Tens of millions of Americans are still struggling, despite the slow economic recovery. I recently collaborated with NPR’s Pam Fessler and producer Sam Sanders on a four-part series looking at poverty in the US and how some organizations are helping families stay afloat. To hear the audio stories, see the images and get the facts visit the series page: Poverty In America: The Struggle To Get Ahead

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~ In Search Of Faith: A Sunday Guardian Feature Essay ~

India’s The Sunday Guardian recently ran a collection of my images from the Parsi community in their newspaper. Here is the text that I wrote which accompanied the photo essay:

Even to an American Parsi, witnessing the lifestyle of a faithful Zoroastrian in India is a novel experience. Though I grew up reciting the same prayers and learning the core tenets of the religion, I never understood what it felt like to be a faithful Zoroastrian. After living in Mumbai for two years and travelling throughout India, I realised that ‘Parsi Zoroastrian’ is not just a group of people who originally came from Persia and found refuge in India. Rather, it describes a way of life that celebrates the environment, the individual and a higher being. The celebration comes in the form of worship, ritual and devotion. While our numbers are far from mighty, the community’s strength lies in the true believers who do not seek praise but humbly serve their family, community and nation.

>To see the picture essay online and other featured work on India click here.<

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~ On Assignment: Family Matters: The Money Squeeze ~

To cope with the hard times, millions of families have pulled together — stacking two, three, even four generations on top of one another. NPR’s Morning Edition has begun an eight-part series titled “Family Matters” which explores the lives of three multigenerational households struggling with issues of money, duty and love. I’ve had the pleasure of visually documenting these families during all aspects of their days — they have graciously opened their doors and lives to us and discuss how they navigate difficult financial decisions.

>Experience the story through audio, images and text here.<

>Do you live in a multigenerational household? Share your candid photos and stories with NPR on Tumblr or #nprfamilymatters on Twitter and Instagram.<

Ida Christian, 89, who lives with dementia, gets help from her granddaughter, Yolanda Hunter, 43, (left), in blowing out her birthday candles. Yolanda quit her lucrative job to become Ida's full-time caregiver. After two difficult years, she is now looking to get back into the workforce. (Kainaz Amaria/NPR)

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On Assignment: Sharmistha Ray for Vogue, India

One of my last assignments in India was for Vogue India: a portrait of artist, critic and curator, Sharmistha Ray. My last few weeks in Mumbai were a blur, from packing to planning to saying goodbye – not only to my good friends but to my beloved Bombay. And what does the city do in your last few days, it forces you to fall in love all over again. It reminds you of the incredible people you have met and will continue to meet. It shows you all aspects of humanity, packed in fleeting moments of exhilaration and heartbreak. I sit in my new home, remembering what I felt when I made this image and wondered where I would be when it was published. One regret is that I knew I wouldn’t be able to share in Sharmistha’s first solo show. But on the flip side, I’ve got one more incredibly talented friend thanks to Bombay.

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~ On Assignment: Mumbai Boss, Comic Con ~

Mumbaiboss.com, the popular online news and culture magazine, sent me to check out Mumbai’s first-ever Comic Con. The goal was to meet the superheroes amongst the mere mortals. Even though graphic novels and comic books are not my thing, I left Comic Con energized and simple happy. What makes my job fun is meeting people who love what they do, who love who they are and who don’t care what anyone else thinks. Someone asked me before I left to cover Comic Con, “How are you going to take their pictures and pretend you aren’t making fun of them?” The simple answer, “That’s easy because I’m not making fun of them!” Even a tough critic like me finds it impossible to balk at sincerity. To see a SLIDE SHOW OF IMAGES and READ SUPERHERO INTERVIEWS go to MUMBAIBOSS.COM.

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~ On Assignment: The New York Times, Rural Banking ~

I remember as a child going to the A.T.M machine with my father. He would pick me up and whisper in my ear what numbers to push near the screen. Within seconds freshly pressed dollar bills would roll out. As I got older, I remember dad not wanting to share those ‘secret numbers’ any longer, and instead we opened my own saving account. I was around 10 years old.

On a recent assignment for The New York Times, I joined reporter Vikas Bajaj to see how State Bank of India’s human A.T.M.s are brining banking to rural communities. We met and spoke to many people that day, a father depositing $2 into his account, day laborers saving cash for relatives living on the other side of the country and this woman below, Rajashri Nakati. She came to a rural banking office set up by State Bank of India to open her first saving account, she is 35 and a mother of five. Rajashri seemed slightly nervous as the business correspondent took her worn farm-labored hands and digitized six of her fingerprints. I could only speculate how significant this day was for her by the immaculate sari she wore and the gold jewelry displayed on ears. She said she was opening the account to start saving money, “If I leave it at home, it will get spent.” Her first deposit, after her account is approved, will be 100 rupees, around $2. To read Vikas’ story and see my slideshow click here: TRAVELING TELLERS, TAKE BANKING TO RURAL INDIA and BRINGING CASH TO THE COUNTRYSIDE.

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~ On Assignment: Monocle Magazine, Le Mill ~

Le Mill, Mumbai’s hot new concept store, is featured in the current issue of Monocle Magazine Issue 47, Oct 2011. Cecilia Morelli Parikh, the store’s co-founder and clothing buyer fields questions in Monocle’s style directory section about her favorite selections for the new season. The sprawling 15,000 square feet store is loaded with furniture, fashion, jewelry and art products made in India. Previously a rice mill, the store is located in Mumbai’s Wadi Bunder neighborhood and also has a chic café, a flower shop, bookstore and an exhibition space.

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