Acrylic on wooden shipping pallets, 2010-2020
24 x 48 x 10 inches
❝Inspired by my experience of living in both Western (Canadian) and Eastern (Iranian) cultures, my work focuses on the concept of cultural translation and investigates the processes involved in cultural transfer and transformation. My art practice navigates the terrains of cultural translation through two theoretical frameworks: Walter Benjamin’s understanding of translation as a departure from the original, and Homi Bhabha’s concept of the third space as a negotiated space of “in-betweeness.”My own experience as an immigrant influences my application of these theories: I have departed my original home (Iran) and now live in the third space, identifying as neither Canadian nor Iranian, but somewhere in between. Since the third space hinges on an act of negotiation, the audience’s interaction with my art is crucial. Viewers’ unique experiences and cultures inform their “reading” of the work, thus allowing them to enter the third space by engaging in cultural translation: the viewers carry their culture across onto my art, and vice versa. My Cultured Pallets series uses shipping pallets to embody and facilitate this cultural translation. These transient installations emerge from my ongoing process of marking shipping pallets with various designs and ornamentation, and an email address. After exhibiting the work, I return the pallets to circulation and track them by engaging in email correspondence with those who find them. By remaining in a permanent state of transit, the works symbolize “in-betweeness.” Returning to the etymological roots of translation as “carrying or bringing across,” my practice explores the concept of cultural translation as the act of “carrying or bringing across” units of culture. In my installations, the decorated pallets metaphorically serve as objects of holding: “bearers of culture” that continuously circulate across peoples and cultures. As a result, my work also evokes issues of migration as people, ultimately, function as “bearers” and “translators” of culture in our current globalized state.❞
2010 Master of Fine Arts, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
2003 Honours Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts, Studio Specialization, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2021 TBD, The Red Head Gallery, Toronto, ON, (upcoming)
2019 Pattern (dis)Placement, The Red Head Gallery, Toronto & Redeemer University College Gallery, Ancaster, ON.
2018 Cultural Translation, Grebel Gallery, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.
2018 Interstice, Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, Canning, NS. & The Station Gallery, Whitby, ON.
2017 Immigrants, curated by Ivan Jurakic, University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo, ON.
2017 Interstice, The Red Head Gallery, Toronto, ON. & Republic Gallery, Vancouver, BC.
2017 Artist’s Project, curated by Matthew Ryan Smith, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, Branford, ON.
2016 In-Between, Durham Art Gallery, Durham, ON.
2014 My Place is Placeless, The Red Head Gallery, Toronto, ON.
2012 12/10/12, Homer Watson House & Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2011 Somewhere in Between: Poems, Pallets, Patterns, Buffalo Arts Studio, Buffalo, NY.
2010 Trans-(across, over, beyond), MFA Thesis Exhibition, Art Lab, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
2008 The Seeker & the Search, The Red Head Gallery, Toronto & Robert Langen Art Gallery,Waterloo, ON.
2008 Mapping of a Quest (site-specific installation), Rotunda Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2007 What is not to be found is my desire, Cambridge Centre for the Arts, Cambridge, ON.
2006 Hear the Secrets Hidden within the Notes, Homer Watson Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2005 Hear the Secrets Hidden within the Notes, Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, Toronto.
2004 Poetic Compositions, Rotunda Gallery, Kitchener, ON & Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, Toronto, ON.
SELECTED JURIED & GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2021 The Art of Living: On Community, Immigration, and the Migration of Symbols, Jude Abu Zeineh, Soheila Esfahani, Xiaojing Yan, curated by Catherine Bedard, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France. (upcoming)
2020 Translations, curated by Jenelle M Pasiechnik, Campbell River Art Gallery, Campbell River, BC, July 9-Sept. 2 2019-20 Open Channels|Passages Communicants, Canada C3 group exhibition curated by Melissa Rombout, Âjagemô Gallery at Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa, ON, June 25 2019- January 26 2020
2019 Close to Home, group exhibition curated by Shannon Anderson, Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, Oakville
2019 Pentimento, group exhibition by members of the Red Head Gallery, Red Head Gallery, Toronto, ON.
2018 Connections & Contexts: 4 Artists Explore Islamic Influences and Traditions, THEMUSEUM, Kitchener, ON.
2018 The Living River Project: Art, Water and Possible Worlds, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, ON.
2018 Forward Motion, Small Arms Inspection Building, Mississauga, ON.
2018 @redheadgallery, group exhibition by members of the Red Head Gallery, Red Head Gallery, Toronto, ON.
2018 Flow: From the Movement of People to the Circulation of Information, Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BC.
2017 Downtown/s: Urban Renewal Today for Tomorrow, The 2017 Art Gallery of Windsor Triennial of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, ON.
2017 Canada: Day 1, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, NS
2017 Passage + Obstacle, in conjunction with Bridges Math Art conference, University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo
2017 Dar’a: Full Circle, curated by Jamelie Hassan, Artcite Inc., Windsor, ON.
2015 Material Girls, Curated by Blair Fornwald, Jennifer Matotek & Wendy Peart Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, SK, Doris McCarthy Art Gallery, Scarborough, ON, Contemporary Calgary, Calgary, AB, College Art Galleries, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Rodman Hall Arts Centre (Brock University), St. Catharines, ON (catalogue)
2016 where/between, Curated by Pantea Haghighi, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, AB
2016 Pattern Migration, curated by Kendra Ainsworth, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga, ON.
2015 Traversive Territories, 3 person exhibition, curated by Corinna Ghaznavi, Varley Art Gallery, Markham, ON.
2015 Human Nature, curated by Corinna Ghaznavi, Kenderdine Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK, Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, ON.
2014 The Source: Reconsidering Water Through Contemporary Art, Rodman Hall Arts Centre, St. Catherine’s, ON.
2013 The Third Space, curated by Sanaz Mazinani, The York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, ON.
2013 Equal Interference, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, ON.
2013 Ornamental Boundaries, two person exhibition, curated by Crystal Mowry, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
2012 Past Forward | Present Tense, curated by Michelle Salter, Hamilton Artist Inc., Hamilton.
2011 Finding Correspondences, curated by Jordan Strom, Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, BC.
2011 Convergence, curated by Suzanne Luke, The Communitech Hub, Kitchener, ON.
2011 Evolution|Revolution, Buffalo Arts Studio, Buffalo, NY.
2011 Cafka. 11. Survive. Resist. (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener & Area), Kitchener, ON.
2011 50 Years of Art: Looking Back at the Future, curated by Jennifer Rudder, First Canadian Place Gallery, Toronto, ON
2010 Art at Work: Corporate Collecting Practices Today, Part 2, curated by Geraldine Davis, Art Gallery of Mississauga
2009 DIASPORArt: strategy and seduction by Canadian artists from culturally diverse communities in works from the collection of the Canada Council Art Bank, Rideau Hall, Ottawa, ON.
2007 Metaphor, Meditation and the Age of Anger, Gallery 96, Stratford, ON.
2006 Studio Alert: Illuminating the Source, curated by Allan MacKay, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2005 Poem as Image, The Studio, Armonk, NY.
2005 Showcase 05, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge, ON.
2004 RBC Investments’ Cross-country Canadian Painting Competition Tour: Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, AB; Brunswick Museum, Saint John, NB; McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, ON; Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, ON.
AWARDS & GRANTS
2020|17|15|13 Ontario Arts Council Production Grant: Mid-career Artist
2018 Women Who Inspire Awards recipient, Coalition of Muslim Women, Kitchener, ON. 2017 Canada Council for the Arts: Production Grant
2016 Region of Waterloo Arts Award (Visual Arts Category), Waterloo, ON, Canada.
2016|12|08|06|04 Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grant
2015 Jameel Prize nominee , Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK.
2011-14 Research/Creation Grant in Fine Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, co-applicant in multi-disciplinary project
2012 Region of Waterloo Arts Fund Production Grant, Waterloo, ON.
2011|08|05 Ontario Arts Council Production Grant: Emerging Artist
2006 Honourable Mention in painting, Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Toronto, ON.
2004 Central Canada Semi-finalist: RBS Investments’ Canadian Painting Competition
SELECTED PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
2019 Artist talk, Redeemer University college Gallery, Ancaster, ON.
2018 panel member, Rethinking Water Through Contemporary Art, Museum London, London, ON.
2018 Artist talk, Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, Canning, NS.
2017 Artist talk, Art in the Public Sphere, The Returners: Seven Conversations, University of Western Ontario, London
2017 Artist talk, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.
2017 Artist talk, University of Lethbridge ART NOW Visiting Artist Lecture series, Lethbridge, AB.
2017 Artist talk, Canada: Day 1, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax, NS
2016 Co-lecturer with Matthew Scott (Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics), Pattern Finding: Popular Expression of Transcendent Ideas, Bridges Lecture series, St. Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.
2015 Presenter & panel member, The Varley Art Gallery, Markham, ON.
2015 Presenter & panel member, Multiple Li(v)es of Art/ists & Conference, OCAD University, Toronto, ON.
2015 Artist talk, Knowledge Integration Seminar Series, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.
2014 Artist talk, Third Age Learning lecture series, Guelph, ON.
2014 Artist talk, Rodman Hall Arts Centre (Brock University), St. Catherine’s, ON.
2014 Juror, Artist in Education Grant, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto, ON.
2014 Panel member, “The Source: Reconsidering Water Through Contemporary Art”, Rodman Hall Arts Centre, St. Catherine’s, ON.
2013 Panel member, Muslim Women: Now & Then, Kitchener City Hall, Kitchener, ON.
2013 Artist talk, Curator’s Circle, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2013 Artist talk, Off Topic, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2012 Panel member, “Past Forward | Present Tense” Exhibition Panel Discussion, Hamilton Artist Inc., Hamilton, ON.
2011 Artist talk/panelist, Shift Symposium: Dialogues of Migration in Contemporary Art, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina
2011 Artist talk, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Waterloo
2009 Artist talk, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON.
2007 Panel member, “Images of Faith,” Kitchener Public Library, Kitchener, ON.
2006 Panel member, “Sources & Inspirations,” Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener.
2005 Artist talk, Canadian Heritage Head Office, Toronto, ON.
2022 Hafnarborg Artist Residency, The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland (upcoming)
2018 Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, Canning, NS.
2017 Canada C3 Expedition (Coast to Coast to Coast), Canada 150 signature project & Canada Council for the Arts
2015 Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium
2013 Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds: Engaging Water as Culture and Resource through Contemporary Art, SSHRC, The Banff Centre, Banff, AB.
2012 Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds: Engaging Water as Culture and Resource through Contemporary Art, SSHRC, Niagara Fall, ON.
2003-5 Homer Watson House and Gallery, Kitchener, ON.
2019 Aritcheta, Allyson. “[Review] Pattern (dis)Placement by Soheila Esfahani.” Looseleaf, July 16.
2019 Kurd, Nadia. “Profiles on Practice: Soheila K. Esfahani.” Femme Art Review, June 2019.
2018 Bronstein, Noa. “Cultured Pallets: Translating the Global.” Rungh Magazine, V6, NO.1
2018 Beheiry, Valerie. “Portable Culture: Soheila Esfahani.” Visual Arts News, September 6.
2018 Desveaux, Heather. “Considering ‘In-between’ Culture at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts.” The Chronicle Herald, April 23.
2017 Cappuccitti, Jessica. “The Art of Urban Renewal in Windsor-Detroit.“ Canadian Art, Nov. 28.
2017 Gazzola, Bart. “Owning Space: Material Girls.” The Sound STC.
2017 Kim, Ju Hyun. “Power and Globalization.” Imprint, November 15.
2017 “Interstice by Soheila Esfahani.” The Islamic Arts Magazine, October 15.
2017 McKay, Staphanie. “Material Girls: All-Female Art Show Avoids Austere Gallery Tradition.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix, February 2.
2017 “Women Get Spotlight in Art Exhibit at U of S.” CBC news, February 5.
2016 “In-Between by Soheila Esfahani.” The Islamic Arts Magazine, October 1.
2016 Mason, Hailey. “Inspiration from Antiquity.” The Medium, September 12.
2016 Griffin, Kevin. “Art Seen: Works by Artists of Iranian Heritage Explore What It Means to be Caught Between.” Vancouver Sun, July 8.
2016 Dick, Terence. “Material Girls and Feminism.” Akimbo TV, season 1, episode 10.
2016 Samuel, Daniel. “Living in a Material World” The Varsity, February 7.
2015 Griffin, Kevin. “Atoms and Artists: The Spookiness of Being in Two Places at Once.” Vancouver Sun, December 31.
2014 Nokyoung Xayasane, Soheila Esfahani. Encountering Difference. Kitchener: Stonegarden Studios.
2014 Soheila Esfahani. “Photo Essay.” Lalit Kala Contemporary. New Delhi: Lalit Kala Akademi, 2014.
2012 Linsley, Robert. “Iran in the Mirror.” Past Forward \ Present TENSE exhibition catalogue. Hamilton: Hamilton Artist Inc., 2012.
2011 Evolution|Revolution Exhibition Catalogue, Buffalo Arts Studio, Buffalo, NY.
2011 Davis, Geraldine. Art At Work: Corporate Collecting Practices Today. Mississauga: Art Gallery of Mississauga
2008 RBC Canadian Painting Competition 10 years, exhibition catalogue.
2004 RBC Canadian Painting Competition, exhibition catalogue.