Raheleh Filsoofi ( She/Her/Hers )

Artist Statement

My artistic practice is rooted in the history and philosophy of Middle Eastern travelers and scholars such as Ibn Battuta and Saadi Shiraz, who shared their experiences and observations of unfamiliar areas to create critical narratives about identity, humanity, and communality. My work also draws on Western travelers who have been associated with the colonial narrative, primarily due to their journeys aimed at claiming resources from other cultures. Despite the impact and legacies attributed to them, I critically address the implications of this practice in my work. Over the past decade, I have traversed across continents, navigated between cultures, and observed the effects of political and social stagnation and extremism associated with immigration policies and social injustice. As an Iranian-American woman, my own experience as an immigrant has deeply influenced my artistic philosophy, and I am driven to produce work that challenges current perspectives on politics, society, nature, and culture. To achieve this goal, I experiment with different aesthetic strategies and incorporate various media and materials with wide-ranging applications to my subject matter. My multimedia installations and performances provide layered, multi-dimensional experiences aimed at reimagining a world in which the divisions between places and cultures collapse, coalesce, and invite the viewer to journey physically and psychically beyond their territorial entrapments. Clay and sound are the nexus from which most of my ideas emanate. They are cryptic, architectural, and the space where the holistic sensory experiences engender new and critical narratives. Crossing the physical and temporal territories of clay and sound to explore the potentiality of each medium disrupts and circumvents the borders of cohabited spaces and expands them to a more inclusive world where the universal, yet autochthonous nature of clay, the mélange of immersive sound experiences, and the myriad conceptions of the world intersect to illuminate and challenge policies and politics in a quest for a common wisdom. As such, I traverse and draw inspiration from experiential, geographical, temporal, disciplinary, and conceptual spheres, seeking to enrich and embody these diverse experiences.


Her current and recent exhibitions include Imagined Boundaries, an interactive multimedia installation at Gibbes Museum in Charleston, SC (2023-2024), and Only Sound Remains, an interactive multimedia installation at the Sharjah Biennial 15, Thinking Historically in the Present in Sharjah, UAE (2023).

Raheleh is the 2023 recipient of Joan Mitchell Fellowship award, the 1858 Contemporary Southern Art Award and the recipient of the 2021 Southern Prize Tennessee State Fellowship. She is an Assistant Professor of Ceramics in the Department of Art at Vanderbilt University and holds the secondary appointment at the Blair School of Music. She received her M.F.A. in Fine Arts from Florida Atlantic University and a B.F.A. in Ceramics from Al-Zahra University in Tehran, Iran.