Meet ELAN’s 2011/2012 AAASAC Representative, Roya Amirsoleymani

Most of my life has been spent between Southern California and Phoenix, Arizona (with a brief San Francisco stint thrown in), so I have a special place in my heart for the barren beauty of the desert. I earned a B.A. in 2006 titled Space, Image, and Desire: Contemporary Visual Culture and Gender Studies, which I’m sure makes clear that mine was not a typical undergraduate experience!

I attended the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands (California), an interdisciplinary college, intentional community, and overall radical experiment in higher education that encouraged bridging gaps between disciplines, designing one’s own major, and applying theory to practice through a living-learning community space.

While at Johnston, I acquired a love of contemporary art and film theory and criticism, which led to curatorial and exhibition internships at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. Simultaneously, I was immersed in studies of women, feminism, and gender. I spent a semester studying contemporary women artists in Prague, worked in public relations for a women’s film festival, and for my senior project, curated Presence and Performance: Queer-Feminist Bodies, a group exhibition incorporating extensive writing and roundtable interviews for an original curatorial catalog. Feminist and gender theory continues to significantly inform and intersect with my studies in arts management.

I gained the majority of my professional nonprofit programming experience during my time with a women’s social service organization in Phoenix, Arizona, where I managed an education program for adult women and served as lead grant writer. Many of the skills I acquired in these positions have been directly transferable to the nonprofit arts sector.

Today, I am pursuing my M.S. in Arts Management with a concentration in Community Arts, which is an incredibly broad, dynamic, and innovative area of study and practice that allows me to merge my interests in contemporary art and media programming, community cultural development, social practice art, and feminism. I am grateful for the our program’s emphasis on applying classroom learning to the real world, which allows me to stay actively involved in a variety of projects. I just wrapped up work on Cinema Pacific 2011 and am a Co-Creative Director of (sub)Urban Projections, a festival of digital art and media in the back alleys of downtown Eugene, in partnership with the City of Eugene’s Public Art Program.

In line with my interest in interdisciplinary contemporary art and new media, I will be spending my summer interning with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival and look forward to connecting my work with them to public, community-based, and social practice arts initiatives.