Born in 1978, Sophia Pfaff Shalmiyev emigrated from the former Soviet Union’s Leningrad to NYC in 1990. She moved to Olympia, WA to attend The Evergreen State College in 1996 where she studied film, painting, photography and costume design. Mostly interested in feminist art and politics, she joined bands, curated art shows, performed spoken word pieces and wrote fanzines. After completing a Master’s in Creative Arts Therapy from The School of Visual Arts in NYC in 2005, she worked in schools, domestic violence shelters, rehab clinics, court houses, group homes, and hospitals as a licensed clinician. Sophia is also a painter and a photographer and some of her artwork can be seen here.
After renting out her house in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to go on an open-ended road trip around the United States in 2009, she has now settled down in Northwest Portland, Oregon, with her husband, five-year-old son, and one-year-old daughter.
Sophia is currently attending the MFA Nonfiction program at PSU where she is the recipient of the Kellogg Award Fellowship and the Laurels Scholarship. Sophia is at work on her first book about a Soviet childhood, marginalized female figures, misogyny, and escapism as a familial legacy. Sophia is the Nonfiction Editor at Portland Review and writes a bi-weekly column for the PDXX Collective.