Our Community Innovation artistic events, Cultivating Connection Through Art, brought together community members from diverse backgrounds to reflect on their shared experiences of immigration.
Painting experience was not required to participate in these events. Impact North Shore provided art supplies with a selection of other materials to be used by the attendees to create mixed media pieces on canvas. Participants were divided into groups of three to work together on one canvas. They were guided by the talented contemporary artist facilitator Farahnaz Samari, with two artists: Maryam Hatami and Dena Rouhbakhsh, to create beautiful mixed media and acrylic paintings to convey the emotions felt before, during, and after immigration. Over 20 people participated in these events, working together across language and cultural barriers, to find the commonalities in their immigration experiences.
In this community project, immigrants were inspired to express their sense of connection through art. Impact North Shore provided a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for everyone to feel a connection by working together with diverse community members. Participants created a shared understanding of connection and belonging and illustrated that on a canvas together, building new friendships and connection to their community in the process.
Visit the Delbrook Community Recreation Centre from March 15 to see these pieces displayed until July.
Below you will find images of the artwork created during these events, along with the statements from each artist.
Artists: Leila Sharafshahi, Maria Hashemiamiri, Anastasiia Ivashchenko
“Before immigration, I had a lot of passion and worked hard for this reason. I suffered from the society’s situation in my country. There was no freedom even for what we wear, especially women. There was a lot of social and economical inequality. My husband and I wanted to live in a better society and wanted our children live in one of the best countries in the world.”
“Before immigration especially after going through all the different processes for getting a visa, everything seemed great because you feel you could make it, and you are hopeful for a better life. It’s a lot of curiosity for the future and a lot of sadness for leaving your back home.”
“There is a warm comfortable homeplace in the center of the painting. Our homeland. Viburnum is the national plant of Ukraine. There is a vine of opportunities all around that can take you to any country. The white part is about our dreams about the future, but with the memory of our homeland. The vines are a new life and new home.” – Anastasiia Ivashchenko
Artists: Azadeh Zamanipour, Eskandar Derakhshan, Michelle Summers, Sara Dashti
“It was a great feeling to touch the paintbrush and color after a long time, and I could share my feelings with others. We should experience life in different ways and build it again. I experienced rebuilding my life today. We should live life at the moment.” – Sara Dashti
“Reminding of my experience before immigration brought up the mixture of hope, stress, and growth. The experience of missing being with our family and loved ones besides earning opportunities to know new people and learn new and exciting things. The pick of this mixture of feelings was right before my immigration which made me hesitate to immigrate or not. But now I am happy I made it and I’d like to experience many new things here.”
“I am grateful for your effort in developing the immigrant community and cultural inclusion. Before immigration, I didn’t have a clear idea about this journey, so I used dark colors in my painting. After immigration, I’ve tried to take a chance on the opportunities in Canada. I’m doing my best to be a productive person for my community.”
During Immigration (First 1-2 years in Canada)
Artists: Narges Ahadi, Samira Khodayari, Faranak Farrokhnia
“Separation: Immigration ill separate loved ones from each other. We should put behind all we have gained and built up during years of hard working. Just picking up some limited stuff and step into the road of unknown. Hoping that we will reach to the Sun of Hope and Happiness we were looking for. Step in the road, so alone, separated, but hopeful.”
“I’m a young girl who immigrated to Canada recently. My painting is like a road in progress, first I choose a body that is floats in a gray storm because I think gray shows feelings of confusion and stress and having no idea about my future. All this worry and sadness attacks me like angry birds because my feeling was different, but during my flight and early days of my immigration I saw different people with different cultures, and I saw that all people go well together with all differences and that made me to be more hopeful and make me be calm. So, hope and happiness appeared to me like the sun in the sky.” – Samira Khodayari
“The subject of my painting is my daughter. She is in the middle of a fight between her father and me. After immigration, I feel homesick, worried for the future of myself and my daughter, and feel the men’s approach to women is from a sexual perspective. I expressed my idea in my painting.”
Artists: Giti Behdadipour, Jia Duan, Maria De Lourdes Ledesma Velazquez
“Before I immigrated here I was a professor in China, and my husband is a writer. We wanted to choose a peaceful place to be our home. We included the earth with people sitting and thinking around the world. It is a home that’s perfect. Canada is peaceful, sunshine, blue, so we came here.”
“It was awesome taking part in this workshop. We could create a masterpiece of our own with the concept of immigration. What my part of the painting implied was someone who has left her home, her loved ones, her memories, her childhood and all those years of love and passion behind in the hope for a better life and better future. She holds tight to her hometown belongings while thinking about the difficult way ahead and all the hardship she may go through to find a peaceful and hopeful future. She can’t let go of the boat that has brought her here and can’t come out of the water to step on the land that is totally new to her. Actually, she is staying in the middle of the water, her homeland behind and the new land in front. This doubt and feeling of belonging to nowhere stays with her forever.”
“Mourning of husband. It feels like my body is here, but my consciousness is in the past. This feeling that you don’t necessarily have the ties to Canada, but there are so many people depending on you, so you are becoming a new you because you have to. Complimenting who you are is the new you, but you never forget where you are coming from and who helped you on your way here and your new community and new language and through your hands that can teach you new ways and new paintings. But it’s not new, it’s just different, and your body is an instrument to be strong through your process. Speak from the heart.”
After Immigration (2-4 years in Canada)
Artists: Razieh Ghaedi, Mona Bidkhori, Zahra Sharifi
“This is me! A tree whose roots are in my country, Iran. I sprouted, I grew, grew up and grew but without leaves and burdens, until by God’s grace I was able to come to a country where I found the feeling of budding, in the free and pure air, hoping for the sweet fruits of this tree.”
“After a few years of immigration, at last I found ways to develop my ability here. During immigration, I didn’t have any hope of how to start work or study here. After years I found friends who helpdc me to be a part of this community.” – Zahra Sharifi
Artists: Baharak Farrokhnia, Marjan Gharehkhani, Touran Nikpour
“In this painting, I had this idea of people getting together from different places with different cultures around one sun. In this community, people are attending different people’s celebrations. I can feel the hope that I had before immigration coming true. Thanks for providing this opportunity for us.” – Touran Nikpour
Integration (More than 4 years in Canada)
Artists: Liudmyla, Mahboobeh, Olena
“My mother, Olena, and I were so happy to be a part of this magnificent event. Everything was great, people are awesome, painting – amazing. We are very grateful to all the organizers. The organizers helped us a lot.”
“I was in a group painting with two folks from Ukraine. I wanted to show the things we might earn or lose during immigration. I used a few pieces of puzzles to express the mixture and confusion in feelings: isolation, financial and emotional challenges, and disappointments. Despite all these challenges, the woman in my painting is looking upward to find hope in her life. I tried to show loneliness, running away from past difficulties, and limitations, and also my hope for a better future by people, money, green designs above the woman’s head, and gold and silver squares.” – Mahboobeh Javadpoor