Ala Ebtekar (born 1978, Berkeley, works between San Francisco and Tehran) is an artist who for a quarter century, has situated his art practice as a relentless leveling, exploding,and collapsing of time and space to bring steadying attention to the contemporary moment.

His work frequently orchestrates various orbits and cadences of time, bringing forth sculptural and photographic possibilities of the universe, and time, gazing back at us. This extensive research and making process borrows and physically reworks thousand year old image making traditions up to the latest technological advances in production.

Ebtekar’s recent investigations have created liminal experiences to longer notions of scientific duration beyond human timelines while exploring the phenomenology of light. Considering light itself as both concept, medium, and even the possibilities of light as healing he uses a range of radiation in his practice, such as works birthed by daytime uv-light emitted from the sun, or night exposures that were produced by moonlight and starlight. With this method, his recent photographic works take a whole night to expose, continuing durational projects and works which he views as in collaboration with the sun and stars.

Moreover, Ebtekar equally over decades has employed the tactile traditions and properties of bookmaking, page and illumination in bound manuscripts, and classical training in Iranian coffeehouse painting. His alchemy of combining these legacies weave into his commitment and own work in tandem with enduring centuries of reclaimed text & image archives, poetry, and translation.


Ebtekar leverages the potentials of the cosmos to reflect contemplative experiences to look inward as we look outward as an empowering ode to enduring visions in dystopic eras. This practice extends how our contemporary moments both live together as minuscule and paramount amidst an infinite score of skies.

His vast transnational background in studio practice, public and street art, has led to founding and directing Stanford University’s Art, Social Space and Public Discourse, an ongoing Stanford global initiative on art that investigates the multiple contexts that shift and define changing ideas of public space. This ongoing critical framework of conversations, newly commissioned art projects, and exploration of various cultural productions and intellectual traditions looks at recent transformations of civic life.


Furthermore, he has more than a dozen public and civic art commissions, most recently produced by Facebook, SFO/San Francisco International Airport, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the City of Oakland, CA.


Ebtekar holds an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been exhibited widely internationally and throughout the United States in such institutions as the ZKM – Museum for Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe, Germany, the 2014 Xinjiang Biennale, the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, UAE, Asia Society in NYC, Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, The Honolulu Museum of Art in Hawaii, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, and the Brooklyn Museum in NYC. 


Ebtekar’s works are in public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany; Devi Art Foundation, India; Orange County Museum of Art, CA, USA; de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, USA; Crocker Art Museum, CA, USA; Microsoft Art Collection, Redmond, WA; Berkeley Art Museum, CA, USA; among others.

He has been awarded residencies at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany, Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, 18th Street Art Center in Los Angeles, Sazmanab in Tehran, Iran, and the San Francisco Center for the Book.