Tanja Softić

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Tanja Softić
Tanja Softić.png
Born (1966-04-06) April 6, 1966 (age 52)
EducationBFA Academy of Fine Arts University of Sarajevo MFA Old Dominion University
Years active1985–present
2011 Migrant Universe, Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, South Carolina.

Tanja Softić is an American visual artist and art educator who works in media of drawing, printmaking, painting and photography. She is Professor of Art Practice in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Richmond.

Personal life and career[edit]

Tanja Softić was born in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia in 1966. She is alumna of Prva Gimnazija, noted humanities-based high school and graduated from Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Sarajevo with a degree in painting in 1988. Throughout her youth, she helped her parents catalog images: microscopy slides of human tissues for her father, Dr. Dževad Softić, a physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of Sarajevo, and stage set and costume designs or archival photographs for her mother, Slobodanka Grbić-Softić a theater scholar and curator at the Museum of Literature and Performing Arts in Sarajevo. While studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, she was taught by artists who rejected the social realism that marked their own education in favor of modernist explorations of the picture plane and form, yet remained committed to craftsmanship and local cultural influences. In 1989, Softić was awarded a College of Arts and Letters Graduate Scholarship in 1989 to enroll in the Graduate Program in Visual Studies at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Her graduate thesis, a series of figurative drawings and prints, explored the overlays of experiences of living independently for a first time in a very different cultural, social and academic environment and was greatly influenced by art history seminars on medieval manuscripts, the early history of printmaking and the history of photography. In the summers between the academic years, Softić apprenticed and later worked as a printer and studio assistant in the K. Caraccio Etching Studio in New York.

In 1992, Softić accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Art at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. In the following three years, she worked on printed and mixed-media books and large-scale drawings, all greatly influenced by following the disintegration of Yugoslavia and war in Bosnia, As her own outward identity was shifting from displaced Yugoslav to exiled Bosnian to U.S. immigrant, this series of books, prints and drawings addressed the deliberate destruction of cultural memory: the attacks on historic monuments and other material culture during that war, most notably the incineration of the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo in August 1993. Returning to Sarajevo in 1996, seven months after signing of the Dayton Peace Accord, she witnessed the early stages of the city's physical reconstitution and the rehabilitation of its citizens' lives. This experience profoundly influenced her work: she developed new narrative and compositional methods that were influenced by the deconstructive and constructive forces of war, loss, fragmentation, and reconstruction. Her prints and drawings from this period were based on forms of seeds, crustaceans' shells and human and animal skeletal elements—metaphors for loss, survival and preservation. During the sabbatical in 1988–99, while conducting research for a public commission for the University of South Florida, she became intrigued by various concepts of memory in the mythology and literature of ancient Greece and Rome and the late Middle Ages. Of particular interest, was the method of speech memorization of Roman orators described by Cicero and the anonymous author of Ad Herrenium. Using this method, the speaker was trained to visualize delivery of a speech as a walk through a large building with many rooms around an atrium. Walking from room to room, the speaker claimed memorized ideas from the "loci", or memory triggers arranged carefully in each room (c.f. Frances B. Yates, The Art of Memory. The concept of creating a virtual interior space as a complex receptacle of memory, meaning, and images in the mnemonic process became relevant to her drawings, prints, and installations. Memory Folios, a series of six mural-sized drawings completed between 1998 and 2001.

In 2000, Softić joined the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Richmond, where she is currently the Professor of Art. In the next twelve years, she has continued to develop work that addressed the relationships between images and processes of memory. In 2004–2005, Softić organized a year-long series of events at the University of Richmond titled Art, Hybridity and Contemporary Cosmopolitanism, which brought to campus artists and scholars like Homi Bhabha, Coco Fusco, Zarina and works by artists Rina Banerjee, Ellen Galagher, Wangechi Mutu and Mona Hatoum.

From 2007 to 2012, Softić worked on a series of large works on paper, Migrant Universe, her most extensive body of work to date; an expansive visual poem about immigrant's identity and worldview: exile, longing, translation, and memory. This work poses questions of cultural identity or cultural belonging on an intellectual level while suggesting actual internal experience of what Edward Said called "the contrapuntal reality [of an exile]". At the same time, she served as a Chair of the Department of Art and Art History from 2009 to 2012.

During a 2013–2014 sabbatical from University of Richmond, Softic spent time in Sarajevo, photographing, researching, and interviewing staff at several cultural institutions that were either closed for lack of government funding or that operated under difficult conditions. She worked in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the National and University Library, the Museum of Literature and Performing Arts and the Museum of History, all suffering from wartime destruction and damage, by the exodus of professionals during the war, and by the lack of cultural support by the divided Bosnian government. This sojourn led to a photo-essay, Catalogue of Silence. In fall 2015, Softić organized a series of events, 20 Years After Srebrenica: Bosnia and Herzegovina Today at the University of Richmond, that commemorated anniversaries of both Srebrenica massacre and 1995 Dayton Peace Accords and brought to campus documentary filmmakers, poets, artists scholars and graphic designers from Bosnia and neighboring countries for a series of exhibitions, panel discussions, screenings and performances.


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2016: Gathered from Available Data, Chroma Projects, Charlottesville, Virginia.

2015: Catalogue of Silence: Sarajevo's Museums and Libraries, 20 Years After the War Muzej Književnosti i Pozorišne Umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine (Museum of Literature and Performing Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovine)International Education Center Gallery, University of Richmond, Virginia.

2015: New Works on Paper, Turchin Center for the Arts, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.

2014: Migrant Universe, University Museums, University of Richmond, Virginia.

2014: Circle Back, Mayer Gallery, Norfolk, Virginia.

2014: Migrant Universe, University Galleries, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts.

2013: Migrant Universe, Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia.

2013: Tanja Softic´: Works on Paper, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia.

2012: Tanja Softic´: Recent Prints and Works on Paper, Walter Gropius Master Artist Exhibition Series, Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, West Virginia.

2011: Migrant Universe, Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, South Carolina.

2007: Inflorescence, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.

2007: Works on Paper, Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

2004: Recent Work, Lee Scarfone Gallery, University of Tampa, Florida.

2004: Graphia, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, Athens.

2003: Paintings and Prints, Sylvia Schmidt Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana.

2003: Works on Paper, Art Gallery, The College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York.

2003: Bloom, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, Virginia.

2000: Works on Paper, Marsh Gallery, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia.

2001: Memory Folios, Virginia Center for Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

2000: Memory Folios, Sarratt Gallery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

2000: Prints, Kathy Caraccio Studio Gallery, New York.

1999: Tanja Softic´: Grafiche e Libri, Scuola Internazionali Grafica di Venezia, Venice Italy.

Cataloging Memory, L.I.P.A. Gallery, Washington, D.C.

1994: Tanja Softic, Painter and Printmaker, Cornell Fine Arts Museum,Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida

Selected Group Exhibitions

2016: The Other: Nurturing a New Ecology in Printmaking, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville.

2015: Drawn from the McClung Museum, McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Tennessee, Knoxvile.

Re-riding History, The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida. Wright Museum of Art, Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin The A.D. Gallery, University of North Carolina-Pembroke, Pembroke North Carolina All My Relations Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fall 2015

6th Annual Drawing Discourse, S. Tucker Cooke Gallery, University of North Carolina, Asheville.

2014: Printwork 2013, Artist Image Resource, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Extratgalactic, Tamarind Institute Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2013: Deprintation: Art in Exile, Southern Graphics Conference, University of San Francisco, California.

Director's Choice, Art and Art History Museums, Maitland, Florida.

2012: 4 Perspectives: Becoming MPA, curated by Deborah McLoud, Andrea Pollan, Sarah Tanguy and Nancy Sausser. McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, Virginia.

2012: Sargasso Sea Scrolls, a Collaborative Project, Washington Printmakers Gallery, Washington, D.C. Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, Pembroke, Bermuda.

4 Perspectives: Becoming MPA, curated by Deborah McLoud, Andrea Pollan, Sarah Tanguy and Nancy Sausser. Mc Lean Poject for the Arts, Mc Lean, Virginia.

2011: Pattern Matters, Monash University, part of IMPACT7 International Interdisciplinary Print Conference, Victoria, Australia.

Tamarind at 50, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon.

2010: Tamarind at 50, University of New Mexico Museum, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2009: China Sanbao International Printmaking Exhibition, Jingdezhen, China. Curated by Minna Resnick, Printmaker, Ithaca, New York and Jiangseng Li, President of the Jingdezhen Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute.

6th Novosibirsk International Graphic Biennial, Novosibirsk State Art Museum, Novosibirsk, Russia. U.S. entries curated by Carson Fox, independent artist and curator, Brooklyn, New York.

MATRIX/ Printmaking 2009, Florida State University Museum of Art, Tallahassee, Florida. Curated by Joe Sanders, Chair of the Art Department at FSU.

2008: Printmaking Now, Strohl Gallery, Chautaqua Institution, Chautaqua, New York.

Drawing Beyond the Plane, Tampa Museum of Art, Florida. Curated by Elaine Gustafson, Curator of Contemporary Art, TMA.

2007: Continuum: Innovative Prints from Pyramid Atlantic, 1992–2007, Pyramid Atlantic Gallery, Silver Spring, Maryland. Curated by Katherine L. Blood, Curator, Prints and Drawings Department, Library of Congress.

2006: SCALE, A National Drawing Invitational, Tower Fine Arts Gallery, SUNY College at Brockport, New York. Four Printmakers (with Hung Liu, Karen Kunc, Renee Stout), Washington Printmakers Gallery, Washington, D.C. Curated by Katherine L. Blood, Curator of Prints, Library of Congress and Eric Denker, curator of Prints and Drawings, Corcoran Gallery.

2005: Collaboration as a Medium: 25 Years of Pyramid Atlantic, Edison Gallery, Washington, D.C American Prints in Troubled Times, American University in Cairo, Egypt. Select III: Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran Art Auction, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Curated by N. Elizabeth Schlatter, Associate Director, University of Richmond Museums, Virginia.

2004: Meridian/Meridien, Prints by Members of the One/Off Printmakers Group, Atelier Circulaire, Montreal, Canada. Sensory Experience Portfolio, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Botanical Imagery in Contemporary Prints, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Fourth Minnesota National Print Biennial, Catherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Juried by Siri Engberg, Curator of Prints, Walker Art Center and Marjorie Devon, Director, Tamarind Institute for Lithography.

Biennial 2004, Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, Virginia. Juried by Carrie Przybilia, Curator of Contemporary Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

2003: International Print Triennial – Kraków 2003, Contemporary Art Gallery––Palace of Art, Kraków, Poland (juried)

Collected Evidence, Newton Art Center, Newton, Massachusetts (with Phylis McGibbon and Therese Zemlin).

New Directions in American Art, Sheldon Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Lincoln, Nebraska. Curated by Janice Driesbach, Director of the Sheldon Art Gallery.

2002: The 5th Kochi International Triennial Exhibition of Prints, Ino-cho Paper Museum, Kochi, Japan. Juried by Hisae Fujii, art critic, Tadayoshi Nakabayashi, Professor of Printmaking at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and Masanori Kagioka, Director of the Kochi Museum of Art. First Place Award for Architecture of Thought, an etching.

2001: Kings, Hummingbirds and Monsters: Artist's Books at Evergren, Johns Hopkins University, Evergreen House, Baltimore, Maryland. Eighteen artists have been invited to each create an artist book based on one of the books from the Garrett Library at Evergreen House, one of rare book libraries at Johns Hopkins University by Cynthia Kelly, Curator of Exhibitions at Evergreen House.

Life Forms (Carol Brown, Scott Chamberlin, John Hawthorne, Tanja Softic´). Hand Workshop Art Center, Richmond, Virginia. Curated by Ashley Kistler, Director of Exhibitions, Hand Workshop Art Center.

2000: International Print Triennial, Cracow, Intergrafia – World Award Winners Gallery, Katowice, Poland (juried). The 5th Sapporo International Print Bienalle, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan (juried). You Cannot Go Home Again: Exiled Artists in the United States, Philadelphia Arts Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (juried).

1999: Deutsche Internationale Grafik-Triennale Frechen, Kunstverein zu Frechen, Germany (juried).

1998: 1st Northern Ireland International Small Print Exhibition. Townhouse Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland (juried). Grafinnova Triennial of Prints and Drawings, Ostrobothnian Museum, Vaasa, Finland (juried). Bi-cultural Identities (with Hung Liu and Hoang Van Bui), Dunedin Fine Arts Center, Florida.

1997: Body Politics, The Carroll Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, Art Gallery. The University of Stellenbosh, Stellenbosh, South Africa.

Crossings (with Thomas Koole), Galerija Mak, Sarajevska Zima (Sarajevo Winter Festival) Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1996–97: Florida Visual Art Fellowship Exhibition. Terrace Gallery, City Hall, Orlando. Center for the Arts, Vero Beach. Florida Gulf Coast Center, Belleair. Walton Community College, Niceville. Key West Art & Historical Society, Key West, Florida (curated and shown in five venues around the state).

Southern Arts Federation/ National Endowment for the Arts 1996 Fellowship Exhibition. Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), Winston-Salem, North Carolina (curated).

1996: The 3rd Sapporo International Print Bienalle, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan (juried).

Selected bibliography[edit]

Shapiro, Gary, "Landscapes of Memory: Tanja Softić's Migrant Universe", catalog essay for Migrant Universe exhibition, Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, 2011.

Leiby, Jeanne, "Tanja Softic´", Southern Review, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Spring 2009.

Ryan, Dinah, "Tanja Softic´ and Holly Morrison at Page Bond Gallery", Art Papers, Atlanta, Georgia, Vol 33, #2, March–April issue, 2009.

Wurster, Lisa, "Artist in Exile", Artist Magazine, Cincinnati, Ohio, January/ February issue, 2009.

Dawson, Jessica, "You are Here, Here and Here," The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. May 13, 2004.

Brickman, David, "Dream Logic," Metroland, Albany, New York, November 13, 2003.

Temin, Christine, "Two Striking Exhibits Show the Power of Prints," The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, March 9, 2003.

Kinder, Elizabeth, "Bradley's Prime Prints," Peoria Journal-Star, Peoria, Illinois, March 5, 2003.

Nakabayoshi, Tadayoshi, "Exhibition Report: The 5th Kochi International Triennial Exhibition of Prints," TAMA Art Journal, Tokyo, Japan, March 2002.

McLeod, Deborah, "Tanja Softic at the Marsh Gallery," Art Papers, Atlanta, Georgia, Vol 25, #3, May–June issue, page 42, 2001.

Schlegel, Amy Ingrid, "You Can't Go Home Again: The Art of Exile," NY Arts—International Edition, Volume 5, No. 2, 2000.

Michael O'Sullivan, "Ten Best Shows of 1999," The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., December 24, 1999.

Allen, Lynne and McGibbon, Phyllis, The Best of Printmaking, Rockport Publishers Inc, 1998, Quarry Books, Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Cullum, Jerry, Southern Arts Federation/National Endowment for the Arts 1996 Visual Artist Fellowship Catalog, Southern Arts Federation, Atlanta, Georgia.

Stewart, Laura. "Tanja Softic´ at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum," Art Papers, January 1995.

McGreevy, Linda. "Tanja Softic and the Dread of History," The SECAC Review, 1994.


  1. Prva Gimnazija
  2. Academy of Fine Arts University of Sarajevo
  3. Old Dominion University
  4. K. Caraccio Printing Studio
  5. Rollins College Department of Art and Art History
  6. University of Richmond Department of Art and Art History
  7. Migrant Universe

External links[edit]