Ala Ebtekar’s Zenith series is influenced by writings of the 11th-century Islamic philosopher Suhrawardi, who proposed a framework for understanding the universe based on properties of illumination and intuition. In Ebtekar’s rendering, the cyanotype process, in which an iron-red ferrous solution is exposed to UV light to produce vivid cyan, becomes an alchemical technique merging earthly matter and myth, painting and photographic methods. The works in Zenith were exposed at the sun’s zenith in the sky for a single day in each of the four seasons, connecting human and cosmic timescales.
Ebtekar received his MFA from Stanford University and BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at institutions including the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada; Asia Society Museum, New York, NY; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, TX; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; and ZKM – Museum for Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany. Ebtekar’s work is further held by such public collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; de Young Museum and Legion of Honor, both San Francisco, CA; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; and Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA; as well as the collections of Deutsche Bank, Facebook, and Microsoft.