STYLING: ELIN SVAHN. POLO AND SKIRT: STELLA McCARTNEY. JEANS: A.P.C. BELT: B-LOW THE BELT. GLASSES: SOLEIMANI’S OWN. HAIR: TOMO JIDAI FOR MOROCCAN OIL/STREETERS. MAKEUP: SALLY BRANKA/LGA MANAGEMENT. MANICURE: GINA EDWARDS FOR DIOR VERNIS/KATE RYAN. PRODUCTION: BO ZHANG. DIGITAL TECHNICIAN: ERICA CAPABIANCA.
“Being raised in a household where both of my parents talked about their horrifying experiences openly exposed me to social and political issues in the larger world.” —Sheida Soleimani
OCCUPATION: Artist and college professor. My studio practice consists of fabricating and constructing life-size scenes for the camera. In my most recent series, images of female victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran are appropriated to create photographic dolls that exist as sculptures but also appear in photographic tableaus. My classes target the ideas of art and activism, as well as how sociopolitical issues can be integrated within visual language.
MOMENT WHEN YOU TURNED ON AS AN ACTIVIST: In the 1979 Iranian Revolution, my father was a political activist against the Ayatollah’s totalitarian regime and was suppressed for his pro-democratic beliefs. As a result, my mother was imprisoned and tortured while the government tried to learn about my father’s whereabouts. Being raised in a household where both of my parents talked about their horrifying experiences openly exposed me to social and political issues in the larger world. Their revolutionary stories regarding a time of societal upheaval in Iran were initiatives for me to create collisions in regards to my own critical perspectives on past historical issues and their relevance today.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR GENERATION TODAY? The ability to successfully mobilize into a united front. Oftentimes revolutions and uprisings have so much energy and such strong voices, but are not organized correctly. In turn, the ideas that people are fighting for end up falling through the cracks and don’t get the attention they deserve.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? Outside of raising consciousness about social and political issues through my own artwork and practice, I really enjoy bringing socially motivated discussions into my classroom.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN? My art-mom/mentor/friend Liz Cohen has always challenged me to try things that make me uncomfortable. If you’re not taking a risk, you’re not doing it right.