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Soraya Nazarian

Founder, Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation

Soraya Sarah Nazarian and her husband Younes are founders of the Los Angeles-based Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation. The Foundation and the Israel-based regional office named the Ima Foundation are driven by the core belief that promotion and support of education is the most important catalyst for societal change. The foundations’ charitable giving is focused on supporting educational causes through a multipronged approach, be it in the academic setting, the public policy arena, community targeted or the artistic realm.


Outside of her philanthropic activities, the Iranian-born artist is a master in direct stone carving. Her work explores themes of motherhood, family, spirituality and Iranian culture.


Soraya immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 with her family. Early in her career, she worked in multiple mediums including drawing and clay. In the 1980s, Soraya began sculpting at American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism), and established her own studio soon after. Her work is distinguished by two major periods: the 1980s-1990s were a time of discovery and experimentation while the 2000s are marked by the creation of large-scale sculptures.


Soraya’s work has been highlighted in various solo and group exhibitions, including in a 25 year retrospective of her work at the Skirball Cultural Center and Museum in 2010 and in additional venues such as the Shulamit Nazarian gallery, Hebrew Union College, and at the 7,657mi exhibition organized in conjunction with the Jerusalem Biennale (2015) at American Jewish University’s Platt Gallery in Los Angeles and in Jerusalem. Her work is also held in numerous private collections.


Cultural, educational, and medical institutions in Israel and the U.S have commissioned several largescale public art sculptures. Recent commissions include Sound (2002) at the Jerusalem Academy of Music & Dance in Jerusalem, Israel; Reflections (2007) at Sapir College, near Sderot, Israel; Legacy (2009) at the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel; Identity (2010) at Saperstein Middle School in Los Angeles, CA; Wings (2014) at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Jerusalem, Israel; and Love Heals (2017) at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel.