Pantea Karimi is an Iranian-American multidisciplinary artist, researcher, and educator based in San Jose, California. Her art explores historic, religious, scientific, and political themes reflecting upon her gender and upbringing in Iran. Taking the cue from her research on Iran’s historic and scientific documents, manuscripts, and objects, Karimi’s work highlight Iran’s visual culture, and personal narratives intertwined with conflicting political, religious, and societal issues. In her work, she utilizes virtual reality (VR), performative video, animation, sound, print, drawing, and installation.
Pantea Karimi has lived, studied, and worked in Iran, the UK, and the US and presently resides in San Jose, California. She started her training in fine arts and classical music at the age of 14 alongside her studies in science. Eventually, the intense educational system and the societal pressures in post-revolutionary Iran during the Iran-Iraq war led her away from scientific pursuits in the direction of art and design as a career. She obtained a printmaking degree, and two Master’s degrees in graphic design, and fine arts, in Iran, the UK, and the USA between 1999-2009.
Her current artworks mainly focus on geometry, mathematics, and botany which are inspired by her parents’ influences. Her dad, a mathematician, and architect inspired her interest in math and geometry and her mother, a retired history teacher, inspired her interest in art, research, and history, as well as a long-lasting connection to botany. Karimi’s family is rooted in the southern city of Shiraz in Iran, where herbal medicine has been a prominent tradition since the medieval period. Her mother and grandmother taught her about the healing powers of herbal medicine from an early age. Her botanical series is an homage to her intimate childhood experiences and memories of connecting to botany and herbal medicine.
Karimi’s works are held in private and public collections at Stanford University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Davis and have been featured in several publications and media in Iran, Italy, Croatia, the UK, and the United States including an interview with the KQED, California Report in 2020. Her prints and digital works have been exhibited in diverse solo, group, and traveling exhibitions in Iran, Algeria, Germany, Croatia, Mexico, the UK, and the United States, including the de Young Museum, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Google, the NASA Ames Research Center, the San Jose City Hall, The San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, the New Bedford Art Museum, MIT’s Rotch Library, Pikto Gallery in Croatia and Aun Gallery in Iran.
Pantea Karimi has served as a judge on multiple panels including The City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, The University of Nevada, Reno, and the Euphrat Museum of Art. Karimi is the recipient of the 2022 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Artist Grant, the 2022 Mass MoCA the Studios Residency Award, the 2021 University of California San Francisco Library Artist in Residence Award, the 2020 San Jose Holding the Moment Art Award, the 2019 City of San Jose Arts and Cultural Exchange Grant, the 2019 Silicon Valley Artist Laureates Award, and the 2017 Kala Fellowship-Residency Award among others.
Karimi is a member of the Substantial Motion Research Network (SMRN), a research network for scholars and practitioners interested in the cross-cultural exploration of digital media and philosophy. She is an Adjunct Faculty in the Departments of Studio Art and Digital Media at Santa Clara University and College of San Mateo.
Above photos by Carolina Porras Monroy, Studios at MASS MoCA, Assets for Artists, May 2022.