Kimia Shahi

Assistant Professor of Art History
Pronouns She / Her / Hers Email


Kimia Shahi is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Southern California. She researches, teaches, and writes about modern and U.S./American art and visual culture in relation to transoceanic and multidisciplinary histories of landscape, geography, empire, and environment. She is particularly interested in the intersections of art, visuality, and knowledge production. Her work explores how different mediums—including landscape paintings, drawings, prints, maps, scientific illustrations, technical manuals, and image databases—have historically shaped, and challenged, perceptions of nature and their attendant cultural politics, power relations, and ecological implications. Shahi’s current book project examines how saltwater coastlines facilitated new, ocean-oriented ways of seeing, picturing, and understanding the natural world, its materials and processes in the imperial United States during the second half of the 19th century. She is also developing a new study of Project Documerica, a photographic archive and information system produced by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s. 

Shahi has published articles in the journals Art Papers and American Artand she has contributed essays to For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design, Projektionen: Der Platz als Bildthema, and the award-winning Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment. She has received grants and fellowships in support of her research from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University, and the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. Currently, Shahi holds a Kernan Brothers Environmental Fellowship at the Harvard University Center for the Environment.


  • Ph.D. Art History, Princeton University, 2021
  • M.A. Art History, Princeton University, 2016
  • M.A. Art History, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2012
  • A.B. Art History, with a minor in Studio Art, Dartmouth College, 2009
    • Kernan Brothers Environmental Fellow, Harvard University Center for the Environment, Harvard University, 2021-2023
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Modern art and visual culture, with a focus on 19th-20th century United States; histories and theories of knowledge; landscape painting; exchanges among, art, science, and technology; cartography; oceanic, transoceanic, and coastal histories; environment and ecology; empire and colonialism