The Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation (ICAI) is excited to announce the Artist of the Month for April is phenomenal photographer and visual artist Mitra Samavaki.
We were able to sit down with Mitra and discuss her art and how she interacts with her photographs.
Tell us a little about your artistic background and journey?
I'm an Iranian photographer, and I came to Calgary as an international student in August 2021 to pursue my Master's in Fine Art at the University of Calgary. My passion for photography was ignited 20 years ago, the day my father gave me a camera. I would capture anything interesting, from nature to people's postures, sharing them with my friends. I was enamoured by the language of photography, a language of light and shadow and a negotiable balance between them. I received my bachelor's in Sculpture from Tehran University of Art, and during my BA studies, I had the opportunity to broaden my horizon in art. I also worked as a photojournalist and documentary photographer with several Iranian news agencies, newspapers, and magazines for more than seven years. As a photojournalist, I worked in imaginative ways to anticipate the best photograph possible before it happens so I can place myself where I need to be to get the shot.
My journey so far has been both challenging and interesting. You have to leave behind everything, your job, your friends and your memories. You need to restart your life from the beginning; learning a new language, finding new friends and new networks, getting familiar with the new culture.
Can you tell us what inspires you to create your works?
I have always been fascinated by how art can affect social life and change things for the better. For me, photography is not just the art of capturing a moment; it is portraying the extraordinary in ordinary things; I intend to take photos to establish a dialogue with the audience and raise a question. I believe that art would be one of the best tools for shaping social change, changing lives, and expressing concerns.
What are the challenges you are currently facing as an immigrant/newcomer artist?
The main challenge for me is language and its barrier. I need to spend more time and effort on simple writing or speaking, which sometimes can be difficult for an introvert. Language has a direct effect on communication, finding friends, and connection.
What would you like to share with the people of Calgary about your works?
I would like to raise awareness of social issues and specifically immigrant-related issues.
After I moved to Canada, part of me was left behind in my motherland, and I am transforming into a person who is no longer there nor here, but between two homelands, two cultures, and two realities. I started struggling with being situated in between my unreachable past and my uncertain future.
Through my recent artworks and relying on my experience as an immigrant in Canada, I became interested in investigating the feeling of being betwixt and between, exploring the phenomenon of Liminality that lurks beneath the daily life of immigrants in their new environments.
We would like to thank Mitra for taking the time for this interview. You can find her brand new exhibition here.
You can also find Mitra on the following social media links: