The jury of the SoArt Festival 2021

SoArt Club, in addition to supporting artists and introducing them in international exhibitions, tries to help the growth and strengthening of civil society in Iran by designing and implementing numerous and diverse training courses.

2021 SoArt Festival’s Visual Arts Section Jury

William Oberst

William Oberst holds an MFA in painting from Stony Brook University and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Claremont Graduate University. He taught painting and drawing in the Stony Brook Art Department for more than a decade, as well as courses in the history of ideas for the university's Honors College.

In addition, he directed its Living Learning Centers organization and was the founding director of its University Scholars program for high-achieving students, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Service Award in 2002. Selected one of Today's Masters by Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, his paintings are in collections in Italy, Canada, and the United States. He maintains a studio-residence in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts, where he continues his art practice and research in the foundations of representational art.

For more information on William Obrest's background and works, you can visit his personal website at

Kamran Ashtary

Kamran studied art at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City.

His work has been shown in solo shows and group exhibitions in The Netherlands, Iran, California, and New York, as well as published in various books and magazines all over the world.

In addition, Kamran has designed and curated exhibitions in New York, California, Iran, and the Netherlands.

Kamran is also the designer and editor of the 2010 book, Hope, Votes & Bullets, a co-author of the blog View from Iran (, and the book Iran: View from Here. His photographs of Iran were published in the book, Iran Ist Anders, published in Switzerland.

His most recent book is Connecting Memories, a collection of photographs, illustrations, and essays documenting his research into the Holocaust.


Olga M. Davidson

Olga M. Davidson earned her Ph.D. in 1983 from Princeton University in Near Eastern Studies. She is on the faculty of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations, Boston University, where she has served as Research Fellow since 2009. From 1992 to 1997, she was Chair of the Concentration in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Since 1999, she has been Chair of the Board, Ilex Foundation. She is the author of Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1994; 2nd ed. Mazda Press: Los Angeles, CA, 2006; 3rd ed. distributed by Harvard University Press, 2013) and Comparative Literature and Classical Persian Poetry, Bibliotheca Iranica: Intellectual Traditions Series (Mazda Press: Los Angeles, CA, 2000; 2nd ed. distributed by Harvard University Press, 2013), both of which have been translated into Persian and distributed in Iran. Her articles include “The Haft Khwân Tradition as an Intertextual Phenomenon in Ferdowsi’s Shâhnâma.” In Honor of Richard N. Frye: Aspects of Iranian Culture (ed. C. A. Bromberg, Bernard Goldman, P.O. Skjærvø, A. S. Shahbazi), Bulletin of the Asia Institute 4 (1990) 209-215; “The Text of Ferdowsi’s Shâhnâma and the Burden of the Past.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 118 (1998) 63-68, and “The Burden of Mortality: Alexander and the Dead in Persian Epic and Beyond,” Epic and History (David Konstan and Kurt Raaflaub, eds., Wiley-Blackwell, Malden / Oxford 2010) 212-222; “A pictorial aetiology of Ferdowsi as a transcendent poet.” Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia, (ed. Robert Hillenbrand, A.C.S. Peacock, Firuza Abdullaeva, London-New York: I.B. Tauris, 2013) pp. 245-8, plates 9-10;  “Shāhnāma: um Épico Persa sobre Reis e Herois” Antiguidade e do Medievo, (ed. Dominique Santos:Blumnau 2014) pp. 179-195; “Aetiologies of the Kalīla wa Dimna as a Mirror for Princes,”  Global Medieval: Mirrors for Princes Reconsidered (ed. Regula Forster and Neguin Yavari; Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 2015) pp. 42-57; “Parallel Heroic Themes in the Medieval Irish Cattle Raid of Cooley and the Medieval Persian Book of Kings,” (ed. H.E. Chehabi and Grace Neville; Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 2015) pp. 36-46.  “The Written Text as a Metaphor for the Integrity of Oral Composition in Classical Persian Traditions and Beyond.” Singers and Tales in the 21st Century: The Legacies of Milman Parry and Albert Lord (ed. D. F. Elmer and P. McMurray). [email protected] Issue 14.; “Monroe’s Methodology in Analyzing Andalusī Meters and Its Relevance to a Comparative Analysis of a Classical Persian Meter, the mutaqārib.  The Study of al-Andalus: The Scholarship and Legacy of James Monroe (ed. Michelle M. Hamilton and David A. Wacks; Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 2018) pp. 87-96; “Traces of Poetic Traditions about Cyrus the Great and his Dynasty in the Šahname of Ferdowsi and the Cyrus Cylinder.” Cyrus the Great: Life and Lore (ed. M. Rahim Shayegan, Ilex Foundation Series 21, Washington, DC 2018) pp. 232–241; “On the Sources of the Shahnameh.” A Celebration in Honor of Dick Davis: The Layered Heart, Essays on Persian Poetry (ed. A. A. Seyed-Ghorab; Mage Publishers, Washington, DC 2019), pp. 353–362; “Introductory Essay.” The Arts of Iran in Istanbul and Anatolia: Seven Essays (ed. Olga M. Davidson and Marianna Shreve Simpson , Ilex Foundation Series 20, Washington, DC 2019), pp. 1–13. “”Applying a diachronic perspective in reconstructing precedents for the illustrations of the Great Mongol Shahnameh.” Iran After the Mongols (ed. S. Babaie) 115–127. London 2019.

The names of the jury in the short film section will be announced at a later time.