Dahlia Elsayed

For over two decades, Dahlia Elsayed has been making paintings and installations that transport a viewer into fictional landscapes, using text and image to evoke both material and psychological states. 

Her works pull from conceptual art, comics, cartography and landscape painting and use symbols of “hard” data (geographic borders, flags, maps) to frame the “soft” data of memory and experience, provoking a method of visual exploration through language, image, and spaces in between these dual ways of reading.

Using both writing and painting, her visual projects are based on pairing diasporan narratives with a terra firma, to create fixed pictures of placelessness. These allegorical landscapes use a symbolic vocabulary to tell mutable histories and anticipate alternate futures.

Her interest in this type of work is personal: over multiple generations, her family has been displaced from continent to continent, which has fostered in her a deep curiosity into how memory shapes landscape, and its inverse, how landscape shapes memory.


Dahlia’s work has been exhibited at galleries and institutions throughout the United States and internationally, including the 12th Cairo Biennale, Robert Miller Gallery, BravinLee Programs, The New Jersey State Museum and Aljira Center for Contemporary Art. Her work is in the public collections of The Newark Museum, the Zimmerli Museum, Johnson & Johnson Corporation, the US Department of State, amongst others. Dahlia has received awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Edward Albee Foundation, Visual Studies Workshop, the MacDowell Colony, Women’s Studio Workshop, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the NJ State Council on the Arts. She received her MFA from Columbia University and is a Professor of Humanities at CUNY LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY


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