Sheida Soleimani







Born 1990 in Indianapolis, IN. Lives in Providence, RI.


Sheida Soleimani is an Iranian-American artist, educator, and activist. The daughter of political refugees who escaped Iran in the early 1980s, Soleimani makes work that excavates the histories of violence linking Iran, the United States, and the Greater Middle East. In working across form and medium—especially photography, sculpture, collage, and film—she often appropriates source images from popular/digital media and resituates them within defamiliarizing tableaux. The composition depends on the question at hand. For example, how can one do justice to survivor testimony and to the survivors themselves (To Oblivion)? What are the connections between oil, corruption, and human rights abuses among OPEC nations (Medium of Exchange)? How do nations work out reparations deals that often turn the ethics of historical injustice into playing fields for their own economic interests (Reparations Packages)? In contrast to Western news which rarely covers these problems, Soleimani makes work that persuades spectators to address them directly and effectively. Soleimani is also an assistant professor of Studio Art at Brandeis University and a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Sheida Soleimani received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and her BFA from the University of Cincinnati. Her recent solo exhibitions include Ghostwriter at Edel Assanti (London, UK), Negotiators at Kunsthaus Photoforum Pasquart (Biel, Switzerland), Ghostwriter at Providence College Galleries (Providence, RI), Levers of Power at Silver Eye Centre for Photography (Pittsburgh, PA), Hotbed at Denny Dimin Gallery (New York, NY), Medium of Exchange at Southern Utah Museum of Art (Cedar City, UT) and CUE Art Foundation (New York, NY). Selected group exhibitions include the current Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA), Eyes on Iran, a Four Freedoms and Vital Voices project at the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island (New York, NY), A Trillion Sunsets at the International Center of Photography (New York, NY), Immune Project at the Living Art Museum (Reykjavik, Iceland), Denunciation! at ACC Gallery (Weimar, Germany), the deCordova Biennial at the deCordova Museum of Art (Lincoln, MA), and Ecologies of Darkness at SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin, Germany). Soleimani is included in prestigious permanent collections including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s List Visual Art Center (Cambridge, MA). Her work has been reviewed and featured in The New York Times, The Brooklyn Rail, Vogue, Artnet News, Boston Art Review, Hyperallergic, BOMB Magazine, ArtNews, The British Journal of Photography, Whitewall, and Art Asia Pacific. Sheida Soleimani is represented by Denny Gallery (New York), Edel Assanti (London, UK) and Harlan Levey Projects (Brussels, Belgium).

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Virtual Exhibitions:

Coping Mechanisms
Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America
PAFA - Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
03.23.2023 - 10.08.2023
Collective Selection / Selective Collection
Rivalry Projects
04.28.2023 - 06.16.2023
Pillars of Industry
Castello San Basilio
05.28.2022 - 08.28.2022
What did the Declaration of Independence do?
Whitney Museum, Artists Space
05.20.2022 - 05.29.2022
Immune Project: Sheida Soleimani
Living Art Museum
03.19.2022 - 05.01.2022
On the Wall: Sheida Soleimani
Providence College Galleries
03.30.2022 - 07.30.2022
A Trillion Sunsets: A Century of Image Overload
International Center of Photography
01.28.2022 - 05.03.2022
Foresight Prevents Blindness
FNAR Gallery, University of Arkansas
01.20.2022 - 02.27.2022
October 04, 2023 Artists, Press

Review of Sheida Soleimani: Birds of Passage by Gem Fletcher in 1000 Words

Sheida Soleimani grew up hearing about her parents’ political activism in Iran, and their eventual escape to the US to avoid persecution. Now, she’s sharing their stories in a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The World’s Bianca Hillier met Soleimani at the museum to learn more.

Read on 1000 Words.

September 12, 2023 Artists, Outside Exhibitions, Press

Sheida Soleimani: Listen on NPR to “Iranian American artist features stories about her parents in a new exhibit”

Sheida Soleimani grew up hearing about her parents’ political activism in Iran, and their eventual escape to the US to avoid persecution. Now, she’s sharing their stories in a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The World’s Bianca Hillier met Soleimani at the museum to learn more.

September 06, 2023 Artists, Press

Sheida Soleimani is an “Artist to Watch This Month” in artnet news

Artists to Watch This Month: 10 Solo Gallery Exhibitions to Seek Out in September in New York

Read on Artnet News.

September 04, 2023 Artists, Press

Sheida Soleimani: Birds of Passage included in Artsy’s “10 Standout Gallery Exhibitions to See during Armory Week 2023”

Using humor and satire in photographic assemblage,  highlights overlooked, misconstrued, and difficult themes that shape the human experience, examining in particular media representation of global issues.

Read on Artsy.

August 18, 2023 Artists, Press

Photographers on Photographers: Vicente Cayuela in Conversation with Sheida Soleimani

In her meticulously crafted and, at times, cryptic still lifes and tableaux, Soleimani exposes the strains in U.S. and Middle East relations, lays bare human rights violations, confronts dark chapters of state violence and oppression, and, more recently, navigates the somber nuances of revisiting painful family histories of resistance, exodus, and persecution.


August 07, 2023 Artists

Sheida Soleimani on The Messy Truth – Conversations on Photography Podcast

Sheida Soleimani’s work explores intersections of art and activism. She melds sculpture, performance, film and photography to highlight critical perspectives on events across the Middle East, unpicking the complex power dynamics between the region and Western nations.

August 06, 2023 Artists, Press

Meet Multimedia Artist and Activist Sheida Soleimani – Picter Blog

Sheida Soleimani is an Iranian-American multimedia artist, activist, and professor. Her innovative works in ‘constructed’ tableau photography spark dialogues on the intersection of art and protest, particularly emphasizing ongoing human rights violations in Iran.

Read on Picter Blog.

July 03, 2023 Artists, Events, Press

Check out an Iranian-American artist’s new exhibit at the MFA

“Banner Project” is a new photography exhibit by Sheida Soleimani, who incorporates collage into her elaborate photo scenes.

Read on

May 12, 2023 Artists, Press

Sheida Soleimani’s FT Weekend Podcast Episode: ‘Her parents fled Iran. Her art tells their story’

Iranian-American artist Sheida Soleimani tells her family history through her photography, after years of creating political works

May 03, 2023 Artists, Events, Press

Her parents survived prison and separation to flee Iran. Her art tells their story

Photographer Sheida Soleimani’s sumptuous collages reveal dark truths about exile and trauma

January 06, 2023 Artists, Events, Press

Sheida Soleimani: Eyes on Iran

Sheida Soleimani’s Mahsa (2022) is part of the artist’s “Levers of Power” series, which has documented tensions in and between Iran and the U.S. through the body language and gesture since the Trump administration’s March 2020 assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

December 08, 2022 Artists, Events, Press

Sheida Soleimani: With ‘Eyes on Iran,’ Artists Bring Protests to Roosevelt Island

At the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park, across from the United Nations, an exhibition has an undeniable mood of urgency.

December 02, 2022 Events, Press

Eyes On Iran – Art Activation Faces the UN in New York City

The New York installation was unveiled at an event featuring former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Human Rights Lawyer and Director of the Strategic Litigation Project at the Atlantic Council Gissou Nia, artists Sheida Soleimani and Shirin Neshat, actor and singer Sepideh Moafi and more at FDR Four Freedoms State Park with a performance by Grammy award-winner Jon Batiste.

August 10, 2022 Press

Sheida Soleimani in T-Magazine

The artist’s home and studio in Providence, R.I., is, among other things, a wildlife clinic.

Read on T-Magazine.

June 01, 2022 Events, Press

Home Truths: Sheida Soleimani’s Trenchant Tableaus

Sheida Soleimani in the Boston Art Review

May 04, 2022 Art Fairs, Events, Press

NADA Returns to New York City for its 8th Edition

NADA Returns to New York City for its 8th Edition

Read on Whitewall.

September 28, 2021 Press

Sheida Soleimani interviewed for BOMB Magazine: “Critique and Care: Sheida Soleimani Interviewed by Cassie Packard”

As Soleimani’s work looks outward at the global petroleum industry or political corruption in the United States and Iran, it also encourages viewers to turn inward, confronting the assumptions and blind spots that they bring to her images. I spoke with Soleimani about putting evaders of justice in the aesthetic hot seat, making activist art outside of the sentimentalizing traditions of the genre, and rehabilitating wild birds.

September 15, 2021 Press

Sheida Soleimani featured in Hyperallergic: “Artist and Bird Rehabilitator Protests ‘Animal Cruelty’ at LA Gallery”

Fine art photographer and trained bird and wildlife rehabber Sheida Soleimani voiced objections to an opening event at Jeffrey Deitch Los Angeles, which incorporated the release of live birds.

April 27, 2021 Press

Making Your Own Fun: Sheida Soleimani’s Commission for the New York Times

Soleimani started taking these photographs “to document these forays and efforts to explore whatever we were doing one week or another.”

April 06, 2021 Press

Sheida Soleimani in the New York Times

Sheida Soleimani was commissioned by the New York Times to consider what fun looks like now.

April 02, 2021 Press

Interview with Sheida Soleimani for Silver Eye

“I make photographs for a world in crisis.”

Read on Silver Eye.

March 17, 2021 Press Releases

Sheida Soleimani now represented by Denny Dimin Gallery

Born to political refugees who fled Iran in the mid-1980s, Soleimani builds photographic tableaux that dramatize Middle Eastern geopolitics, satirizing the reporting of West and East alike.

March 03, 2021 Press

Sheida Soleimani in Artsy’s “5 Artists On Our Radar This March”

Soleimani’s use of bright colors and textured backgrounds draw the viewer into the conversation and ask us to spend time there. By suggesting rather than spelling out the violence she so often takes up, Soleimani maintains the privacy and agency of her subjects instead of probing into their pain.

Read on Artsy.

February 16, 2021 Press

Sheida Soleimani in Less Than Half

As a photographer who captures images of elaborate stage-like sets, Sheida Soleimani is engaged with contradictory modes.

December 19, 2020 Press

Sheida Soleimani: Hotbed Reviewed in Hyperallergic

“Tracing Networks of Political Corruption in Sheida Soleimani’s Slick, Hyper-Stylized Tableaux” by Cassie Packard

December 19, 2020 Events

“In the studio with Sheida Soleimani” in The British Journal of Photography

The Iranian-American artist invites us into her converted, 19th century barn in Rhode Island, where politically charged installations co-exist with her hobby of rehabilitating injured wildlife.

December 09, 2020 Press

Sheida Soleimani Reviewed in The New York Times

Ms. Soleimani’s artworks are analogue, compositions of items arranged in her studio. Their premise, then, is epistemological as much as formal: Much of what we think we know is a distortion or an illusion.

December 08, 2020 Events

Sheida Soleimani: Hotbed Catalogs!

Exhibition catalog for Sheida Soleimani: Hotbed with essay by Jane Ursula Harris.

Read on Shop.

November 18, 2020 Events

Sheida Soleimani in Collector Daily

As a first gallery solo show in New York, this introduction to Soleimani’s work packs plenty of promising firepower. What’s exciting is that she’s boldly stepped into the fray of making overtly political art, and punched her way through with consistent intelligence and visual wit.

November 18, 2020 Events

Tribeca Gallery Day

Join all the Tribeca Galleries on Saturday, December 5th from 11am-7pm for Tribeca Gallery Day!

November 08, 2020 Events

Sheida Soleimani in Surface

Speaking truth to the crises that define relations between Iran and the United States, Soleimani superimposes source imagery onto sculptural backdrops to reflect and critique hot-button issues such as demands for reparations, sanctions on trade and resources, and the “crude” history of the petroleum industry.

Read on Surface.

November 06, 2020 Events

Opening Celebratory Conversation with Sheida Soleimani & Jasmine Wahi

Join us over Zoom for a celebratory opening conversation of the exhibition, Sheida Soleimani: Hotbed. The online event will include a walkthrough, discussion of the work, and Q & A.

March 06, 2020 Press

Wendy White in the New York Times: “Welcome to the Armory Fair. It’s Huge. It’s Hectic. Would You Like an Audio Guide?”

“I really love Wendy White’s exploration of Americana,” he said at the Los Angeles gallery Shulamit Nazarian — where couches are upholstered with denim jeans — signaling to the newbie visitor that taste and enjoyment are valid criteria.


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