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Kimia Ferdowsi Kline, BFA in Studio Art ’08

What are you making right now?
I’m making work for my upcoming solo shows at Marrow Gallery in San Francisco and Turn Gallery in New York. These paintings are mixed media, centralizing papyrus surfaces and incorporating rubies, thread, pearls, beads, glitter and ink. The content is really just the expansive mystery of human relationships. I’m also working on a monograph with Radius Books, set to release in 2022.

Where do you make work?
I split my time between Nashville and New York, but I typically find that I’m more creative in Nashville.

What’s your favorite and least favorite material/tool/process that you use?
Rubies are by far my favorite material I’m currently using. I’ve been sewing them onto papyrus, another favorite material, alongside freshwater pearls, fire glass, lava beads, glass beads, and glitter. The expansion of materials beyond just paint and panel is a new and exciting development in my work. I took jewelry making classes at the Craft Alliance in St. Louis for two years, and it’s really nice to have finally figured out a way to marry my love of gems and metals with painting. I think about the recent work as jewelry for your mind. My least favorite process is hand sewing beads because I always end up pricking myself with the needle.

What do you listen to while you work?
All sorts of music—lately a lot of Billie Eilish, Kelsey Bulkin, and Novo Amor. But also I love making work in silence.

Do you have a ritual? A studio uniform?
I find it usually helps if I clean up a bit before I start working. Having a clean, organized space that isn’t distracting helps my creative process. I also usually always walk into studio with a cup of Earl Gray tea.

What do you do when you’re not in the studio?
I’m a mom to a 2.5-year-old—a full-time/lifetime job!

What influences your work the most?
I grew up in a big Persian family, and that experience continues to inform the work. I find the dynamics in nuclear and extended families both fascinating and haunting. I would say the Family Systems Theory in psychology is an overarching influence on my work. Bowen’s theory views the family as an emotional unit where family members are intensely emotionally connected. It suggests behavioral patterns can lead to either balance or dysfunction of the system or both. All my paintings are explorations of these concepts and are directly related to specific events, people, and experiences I’ve had as a daughter, sister, wife, and mother.

Favorite WashU memory that you can share with the general public.
Meeting my husband at Bauhaus. <3

What’s the best thing you learned as an art student at WashU?
The level of rigor that was required of me in the art school prepared me for life as a professional artist in New York. I remember junior and senior year we had to be in studio Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm. Developing that habit of hard work and long hours was indispensable to my development as an artist.

What advice would you give to our students?
Worry more about listening to your intuition than about writing a perfect artist statement or having some overly articulated conceptual framework. Honing your intuition and learning to trust your voice are two of the most important skills you must develop as an artist.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
Walking through Forest Park to the Saint Louis Art Museum.

About the Artist

Artist and curator Kimia Ferdowsi Kline earned an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was named a Danforth Scholar. She has mounted solo exhibitions at Turn Gallery (New York), Marrow Gallery (San Francisco), Wayne State University (Detroit), and 68 Projects (Berlin). Select group shows include Ceysson & Bénétière (Luxembourg), The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, PACE University (New York), CANADA Gallery (New York), and The Drawing Center (New York).

In 2015 she was awarded The Basil Alkazzi Detroit Residency and Grant through the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2018 she was honored to be nominated for a Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant, and was awarded a residency at the Macedonia Institute in Hudson, NY. Currently she is working on a monograph with Radius Books, set to release in 2022.

Guest lectures and teaching include Yale University, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, SUNY Purchase, Lipscomb University, The Fashion Institute of Technology, Brooklyn College, Wayne State University, and Chautauqua Institute.

As a freelance curator, she consults for various private collectors and corporations.

Select press includes: The New York Times, Hyperallergic, Cultured Magazine, New American Paintings, Architectural Digest, The Harvard Advocate, Departures Magazine, & Travel + Leisure.

She splits her time between Nashville and New York.

Alumni work

Mixed media painting featuring a vibrant, rounded pink and orange X-like figure in the center, with ovular shapes—some appearing to be heads, around the perimeter in black, olive green, yellow, and brown. Composed of ink, acrylic, freshwater pearls, lava beads, fire glass, glitter, abalone, thread, and glass beads on papyrus.

Mixed media painting; the top appears to be an abstracted figure embracing something, with a couple of smaller, bent over figures underneath. Painted in shades of bright bink, red, brown, and deep green. Composed of ink, acrylic, freshwater pearls, and thread on papyrus.

Mixed media painting, featuring two figures whose arms are intertwined, painted primarily in bright pink, deep orange, and brown. Composed of ink, acrylic, freshwater pearls, and thread on papyrus.

Mixed media painting; a tall, skinny ladder leads into the open mouth of an oval-shaped, abstracted head figure in light brown with red outline and eyes, with a second, smaller head painted on top in yellow.

Mixed media painting, featuring a curved chain of ovular head figures in muted browns, oranges, and reds, leading to a larger, abstract brown figure.

Mixed media painting in bright pinks, reds, and gold, featuring three heads at the bottom—one upright, one upside down, one sideways—under elongated shapes up top, made out of ink and thread on papyrus.

Mixed media painting of four overlapping, abstracted heads in muted browns, oranges, and reds, crying blue tears.