Farima Fooladi was born in Tehran, Iran, in a transition period from monarchy to the Islamic Republic and theocracy. Fooladi completed her MFA and taught at Penn State University before moving to Houston, Texas. Fooladi’s painting titled “Mirage” was purchased with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA)’s support for Houston Airports in 2020 to add to the Civic Art Collection at Houston Airports. Fooladi is fascinated by the lasting impact of collective trauma caused by invasion, migration, and displacement. The transformation of civic spaces caused by social and political changes particularly interests her. Fooladi participated in the series four of Artist On Site Residency at Asia Society in summer 2023. Fooladi was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant for June 2023 to June 2024.
Fooladi’s paintings depict spaces using memory, compressing architecture and landscape from her upbringing in post-revolutionary Iran with those surrounding her as an adult after emigrating to the United States. She combines details from Southern Iran’s arid environment with luscious flora and other specifics of her current home in Houston, Texas. Water appears as a motif in pools, waterfalls, and lakes. In Iran, a scarce resource and abundant in Houston, water plays a significant role in Fooladi’s work. It is a texture and a symbol, referencing specific yet undocumentable recollections and shifting availability due to climate change.
Growing up in post-revolutionary Iran, Fooladi remembers how urban spaces and people changed gradually. She remembers how architectural open spaces became covered with materials and transparent windows became matte. She mentions the apartment she grew up in had a communal swimming pool, which didn’t come to fruition. Due to the regime change, they turned it into a garden to make it more conservative. All the abandoned and repurposed swimming pools inspired the confused swimming pools in her paintings, which she and many of her generation didn’t swim in while growing up in Iran.