Iranian-American, b. 1975
Lives and works in the Bay Area, California

Shiva Ahmadi’s practice borrows from the artistic traditions of Iran and the Middle East to critically examine global political tensions and social concerns. Having come of age in the tumultuous years following the Iranian Revolution and subsequent Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Ahmadi moved to the United States in 1998, and has been based in California since 2015.

Ahmadi works across a variety of media, including watercolor painting, sculpture, and video animation; consistent through her pieces are the ornate patterns and vibrant colors drawn from Persian, Indian and Middle Eastern art. In her carefully illustrated worlds, formal beauty complicates global legacies of violence and oppression. These playful fantasy realms are upon closer inspection macabre theaters of politics and war: watercolor paint bloodies the canvas, and sinister global machinations play out in abstracted landscapes populated by faceless figures and dominated by oil refineries and labyrinthine pipelines.

Shiva Ahmadi studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Wayne State University, Detroit, MI; and Azad University, Tehran, Iran. In addition to recent solo exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA (2017) and Asia Society Museum, New York, NY (2014), her work has been included in major group shows including Home Land Security, For-Site Foundation, San Francisco, CA (2016); Fireflies in the Night Take Wing, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Athens, Greece; and Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists from Iran, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY (all 2016); Catastrophe and the Power of Art, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2018); and Revolution Generations, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar. Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Asia Society Museum, New York, NY; Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Farjam Collection, Dubai, UAE; TDIC Corporate Collection, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and the private collection of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, among others. 

In 2016, Ahmadi was awarded the ‘Anonymous Was A Woman’ Award and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Shiva Ahmadi, a new monograph of her work, was published by Skira in Spring 2017.

Biography

EDUCATION

2005
Cranbrook Academy of Arts, Bloomfield Hills, MI, Master of Fine Arts, Painting

2003
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, Master of Fine Arts, Drawing

2000
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, Master of Art, Drawing

1998
Azad University, Tehran, Iran, Bachelor of Fine Art, Painting

 

ART RESIDENCY

2003
Skowhegan Art Residency, Skowhegan, ME

2018
Civitella Ranieri, Italy

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Selected Solo Exhibitions

2020               

[Forthcoming] Elain Jacob Gallery, Detroit, MI

2019               

[Forthcoming] Rubin Museum of Art, New York, NY

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Burning Song, Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2017
Ascend, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY
Ascend by Shiva Ahmadi, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

2016
Spheres of Suspension, Charles B. Wang Center, New York, NY

2014
Shiva Ahmadi: In Focus, Asia Society Museum, New York, NY
Lotus, Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University, New York, NY

2013
Apocalyptic Playland, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY

2012
Throne, College of Wooster Art Museum, Wooster, OH
Throne, Art Dubai, Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai, UAE

2010
Reinventing the Poetics of Myth, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY

2005
Oil Crisis, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019               

Once at Present, Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco , CA

2018
Catastrophe and the Power of Art, Mori Art Museum, Jupan
Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and the Islamic Tradition, Katonah Museum of Art, NY 
Connected, SF Photo fair, San Francisco, CA
This Land Is Whose Land? Sun Valley Center For the Arts, Idaho

2017
Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians, Agha Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
Sanctuary, Fort Mason Chapel, San Francisco, CA
Exquisite Corpse: Moving Image in Latin American and Asian Art, 
Mana Contemporary, Miami, FL

2016
Homeland Security, For-site foundation, San Francisco, CA
Global/Local, Grey Art Gallery NYU, NYC
Fireflies in the Night Take Wing, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens, Greece 
A Heritage Transposed, The Box Freiraum Gallery, Berlin, Germany 

2015
Armory Show, Leila Heller Gallery, NYC

2014
Artist in Exile: Creativity, Activism, and the Diasporic Experience, Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery, New York, NY
Art Dubai, Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai, UAE

2013
Venice Biennale, Small Works Project, Collaboration of Library Street Collective, Detroit MI and Benetton, Venice, Italy

2012
The Fertile Crescent, Rutgers University Museum Exhibition, Newark, NJ
The Rule and Its Exceptions, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX

2011
Art Abu Dhabi, Leila Heller Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Jasmin: Oriental Summer, Sabine Knust Gallery, Munich, Germany
Art X Detroit, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI
[Dis]Locating Culture: Contemporary Islamic Art in America, Michael Berger Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
Art Dubai, Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai, UAE
VIP Art Fair, Leila Heller Gallery, Online Art Fair

2010
Art Abu Dhabi, Leila Heller Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Tehran – New York, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY 
Art Dubai, Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai, UAE

2009
Art Abu Dhabi, Leila Heller Gallery, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Iran Inside Out, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY 
Selseleh/Zelzeleh: Movers & Shakers in Contemporary Iranian Art, curated by Dr. Layla Diba, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY

2008
Just Paper, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY
Ahmadi & Zhang: Looking Back, the Feldman Gallery at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR
Distant Shores: Cultural Exchange in Contemporary Art, McIninch Art Gallery, Manchester, NH
Splash, Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY
Conference of the Birds, Leila Heller Gallery, in cooperation with B & S Projects, London

2007
Merging influences, Eastern Elements in New American Art, Montserrat Art Gallery, Boston, MA

2006
Figuratively speaking, Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York, NY

2005
Three Positions, Lombard\Freid Projects, New York, NY
Atomica, Lombard\Freid project and Esso Gallery, New York, NY
Portland Museum of Art Biennial, Portland, ME
Cross Current, Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, Birmingham, MI

2003
Detroit Now, Meadow Brook Art Gallery, Rochester, MI
Biennial Art Competition, South Bend Regional Museum of Art, South Bend, IN
Exchange, Forum Gallery, Bloomfield Hills, MI

2002
New Shoes, Tangent Gallery, Detroit, MI
Paint Creek Center for Arts, Detroit, MI

Selected Collections

Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York, NY
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles CA
Asian Museum of Arts, San Francisco
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
Asia Society Museum, New York, NY 
DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago, IL

Morgan Library, New York 
Wayne State University Art Collection
Grey Art Gallery, New York
The Farjam Collection, Dubai
TDIC Collection, Abu Dhabi
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

Awards and Fellowships

2016
Anonymous Was a Woman Award
The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

2009
Kresge Artist Fellowship, Kresge Foundation

2008
Nominated for Altoid Award by The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY

2004
First Prize, NYC 6th National Juried Exhibition, New York, NY 
First Prize, Biennial Art Competition, South Bend Regional Museum of Art, South Bend, IN


2003
First prize, Michigan Fine Arts Competition, Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, Birmingham, MI

2002/03
John & Irene Sowinski Scholarship 
Wayne State University, Graduate Professional Scholarship, Wayne State University 

2002
Second Prize, 2002 Michigan Drawing Biennial Exhibition, Ford Gallery, Ypsilanti, MI

2001
Thomas C. Rumble University Graduate Fellowship, the most prestigious Fellowship at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI