Patricia Towfigh was born in Bath, England, at the beginning of World War II, and grew up in Bristol, England. During the war, her family frequently had to take refuge in the air raid shelter at the bottom of their garden. As a small child growing up in one of the most heavily-bombed cities in England, she believed that the natural color of the sky was red. She came from a large family, attended an all-girls’ school and then became a nurse in Oxford.
Towfigh arrived in the United States in 1964, working as a nurse for several years in Cambridge. Just as she was about to return home to England, she met her husband, who is from Iran. She is still here fifty-two years later, taking joy in the diversity of the West Medford community, caring for those around her, exulting in nature, and trying to push the technical and aesthetic limits of her artwork. This year, she is thinking especially of her dear friend Betty Sue Clark, who was a bright light in WMOS, and who passed away last year.
I have loved painting for as long as I can remember. Due to shortages during World War II, only powdered paint was available at school. Miss Auden, my painting teacher in primary school, took us on wonderful trips to museums in London, and was wonderfully encouraging. Her cousin, the English writer W.H. Auden, judged our school art show one year.
My grandparents’ garden, which was full of beautiful trees and flowers, had a great influence on me. My deep love of nature inspires me; beautiful plants, trees, animals, birds and the outdoors maintain our connection with the spirit.
Over the past year I have been collaborating with another painter and friend on a children’s book about the birds of the Bahá’í holy gardens in Haifa, Israel. Because it is located on the migratory paths from Africa, Israel is one of the best places in the world to birdwatch. Each page in the book is of different birds in their habitats. I am a long-standing member of an artists’ critique group—a group of women, mostly in Medford, who meet to encourage each other and discuss their artworks.
Here is a favourite quotation from the Bahá: Writings that inspires me in my art: “I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou were at prayer in the Temple.” —Abdu'l-Bahá