Leila-Portrait-2014

Leila Nadir is an Afghan-American artist, critic, scholar, memoirist, and co-founder of the art/theory ecoarttech collaborative, which recently completed a commission for the Whitney Museum of American Art. She earned her PhD in literature from Columbia University in 2009 and was Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at Wellesley College in 2010-2011. In addition to publishing scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals about art, literature, new media culture, and the environment (Leonardo, Antennae, Cather Studies, and Utopian Studies), she is a regular contributor to Hyperallergic and has published reviews with American Scientist, Rhizome, Furtherfield, and Ecoartspace. Her work has received many awards, including numerous university fellowships as well as grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and New York Council on the Arts, as well as the Eugenio Battisti Award and the Arthur O. Lewis Award from the Society of Utopian Studies for her original research into the role of utopian thinking in environmental thought. Leila teaches humanities courses in the Sustainability and Digital Media Studies programs of the University of Rochester.

Leila’s continual intrigue with questions of mobility, place, nature, globalization, and environmental identity–the focus of her artistic and critical work–was produced by her disjointed upbringing both within an urban, Afghan immigrant community and in an all-American, pastoral small town. She is currently at work on a memoir, titled Cold War, about the colorful marriage of her Afghan, Muslim father and Slovak, Catholic mother, who together raised seven children. Cold War chronicles how local, national, and global spaces weaved through her family’s affairs, traversing her family’s domestic life, her rural hometown, New York State’s child welfare system, Dan Rather’s evening news, U.S. foreign policy, and the war in Afghanistan. It also documents Leila’s childhood observations of two troubled parents who were constantly at odds. Excerpts from Cold War are forthcoming in North American Review and The Asian American Literary Review in 2013. The AALR essay will be accompanied by a series of interviews of Afghan-American artists and writers conducted with Zohra Saed, co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature. For a recent interview about Leila’s life and work, click here.

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