Bio & Statement

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Seyed Alavi received a Bachelor of Science degree from San Jose State University and a Masters of Fine Art from the San Francisco Art Institute. Alavi’s work is often engaged with the poetics of language and space and their power to shape reality. 

He has created site-specific installations for The New Museum of Contemporary Art and Franklin Furnace in New York City; The University Art Museum- Cal State Long Beach; The Museum of Santa Cruz County; The deSaisset Museum; The University Art Museum, Sonoma State; The University Art Museum, Cal State San Bernadino and San Francisco’s Capp Street Project. 

His public art projects include; Fountain Head in Walnut Creek, CA; Tree of Life in Seattle, WA; Room for Hope and Flying Carpet in Sacramento, CA; Tale of Time in Kochi, Japan; Seed of Knowledge in Saint Paul, MN; Nature of Life and A Sense of Unity in San Jose, CA; Signs of the Time in Emeryville, CA; Where Is Fairfield in Fairfield, CA; Words by Roads in Oakland, Selected Words in San Rafael, CA; Forgotten Language for the City of Palo Alto; Speaking Stones, Golden Gateway and What Do You Think? in San Francisco.

He has also received grants from the NEA/ US-Japan Creative Artists’ Fellowship; The California Art Council; Western States Arts Federation; Art Matters Inc.; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; New Langton Arts; City of Oakland Creative Artists Fellowship; The Creative Work Fund, and The LEF Foundation. 

Alavi has taught classes and workshops at The San Francisco Art Institute; California College of the Arts in Oakland; San Francisco State University; The University of California, Davis; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has also been a visiting artist at Kyoto Seika University in Kyoto, Japan, and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. 

He has been an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington in Seattle; Capp Street Project in San Francisco; The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; The Blue Mountain Artists Residency, New York, and at the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California.


My overall artistic methodology is highly site responsive in nature and takes numerous physical and conceptual aspects of the location into consideration. I am inspired by a whimsical, playful approach that is also informed by engaging philosophical and conceptual twists. I believe that a playful context allows the viewer to befriend the artwork and have a comfortable and welcoming experience. Once this type of relationship has been established, the deeper, conceptual layers can then gradually reveal themselves over time, through the process of reflection.

I approach each of my projects as an opportunity for learning, in the sense that I often seek out new contexts for research, study and discovery, instead of simply repeating what I already know/ am familiar with. Thus, I begin my aesthetic process by first welcoming and actively looking for all the eccentricities of a project. I then continue by asking questions, exploring alternatives, and experimenting with new methods and materials. I consider the totality of social, historical, cultural and architectural characteristics that will influence the creation, presentation, as well as the overall experience of the artwork. I then search for a common, unifying element, one that is best suited to the particular project, and which will support this new composition/ community of forms, shapes, styles, and materials.  This process of refinement helps me to create pieces that are harmonious while being complex and multi-layered.