Shahnaz is the youngest child of immigrant parents, who left Iran to escape the woes of the 1979 revolution. Born in Toronto, Canada, she later moved to Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of seven, where her family established new roots. Shahnaz’s first memories are of doodling and drawing. Her mother noticed this inclination for creative expression, and paved the way for Shahnaz's first real instruction in the arts. She visited Tehran, Iran, at the age of ten, for the first time to meet relatives and spend the summer there. Shahnaz’s immersion into her own Iranian culture and heritage was critical in her artistic development. During that summer in Tehran, her mother orchestrated the opportunity for her to take private lessons under the late-renowned painter, Abbas Katouzian, a protégé of Kamal-ol-molk (the court painter to several of the Shahs of Iran). Fortunately, Shahnaz was well versed in spoken Farsi. It was the language of her household, so she could easily communicate with Katouzian during her lessons. He taught her oil painting techniques based on still-life subjects and portraits. Katouzian openly critiqued Shahnaz’s every brushstroke in an honest and direct way, which conditioned her to accept a straight-forward style of criticism from a young age. This summer experience in Iran served as a diving board into her artistic development over the next several decades of her life as she continued to sharpen her technical skill. 

Shahnaz developed an unrelenting ambition to create artwork, and she received various forms of recognition at state-level competitions through her years in school. During her junior year of high school, she was nominated and accepted as a finalist to attend a summer residency at Valdosta State University through the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program in the category of Visual Art. She was mentored by the artist, Harry Ally, who was highly influential in her decision to go to art school. Shahnaz began her studies at Georgia State University in 2008, in the wake of a devastating economic crash. She cautiously chose to pursue a bachelor's degree in art while taking science courses on the side to pursue a career in healthcare simultaneously. As time went on, Shahnaz watched the economic turmoil of the recession unravel around her, and there was a great deal of uncertainty regarding what a career in art would look like given the challenges in the years ahead. Consequentially, half way through completing her art degree, Shahnaz switched paths in order to pursue a more safe and stable career in dentistry. From that period onward, she focused all of her time and energy into obtaining her doctorate in dentistry, which she received in 2016, and then immediately began practicing dentistry full-time. 

In the years that followed, Shahnaz slowly gravitated back to her passion for art and she started to experiment with various media, including textiles, ceramics, and oil paint. In 2019, she submitted one of her works (a hand-woven tapestry) in an open call for a juried art exhibition at The Art League Gallery in Alexandria, VA. She unexpectedly won the “Best In Show” award, which was symbolic of her reentry into the arts after a long hiatus. This recognition encouraged Shahnaz to persist, and, more importantly, to forever seek the joy that comes with experimenting and creating her own body of work. Her philosophy is to explore and depict the visual and conceptual elements that reflect the human experience.