The walls of our spaces are full of thought-provoking art, including Sarah Alinia Ziazi’s striking Primary Idols, which features representations of women’s bodies, signs and symbols of empowerment and unity painted in red, blue and yellow on acrylic.
Primary Idols, seen in The Drake Hotel’s Modern Wing, reflects on ideas of self, exploratory representations of the female form and intersectionality—all timely themes with International Women’s Day coming up on March 8.
We chatted with the Toronto-based artist and illustrator to learn more about her inspiration behind this art piece, her role models and other women in the art space inspiring her. You can see more of Sarah’s work on Instagram here (@the.sarah.az).
+ What are you working on that has you personally or professionally excited?
Currently, I’m working on a few paintings that will be on view in a gallery space in the summertime, hopefully, if Covid doesn’t get in the way. I’m also in the process of opening an online shop to sell prints of my work.
+ Can you tell us about Primary Idols? In what ways does it celebrate or comment on your experience as a woman?
Primary Idols is a site-specific installation created with themes of self-acceptance in mind. Primary colours of red, blue and yellow are shown within three women to symbolize how the importance of these colours can create any colour available. This is an invitation for the viewer to enter the realm of imagination and reflect on ideas of self, exploratory representations of the female form, and intersectionality throughout social structures. I was very inspired by the childhood element of learning the meaning of colours and how the simplicity of that theme can resonate with so many things. In correlation to my experiences as a woman, I think it’s important to not lose that part of myself. Or try not to.
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+ Who are some of your important role models or mentors who are women?
My grandmother. She’s a significant human being in my life who’s taught me everything. One of my favourite things to think about is comparing my life experiences with hers. It’s surreal to imagine how we’ve handled similar situations from two different generations.
+ What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists?
If you know you’re worthy of being an artist, it’s your obligation as an artist to keep up with that practice as much as you can. If being an artist is the only profession you know that can make you happy, do it to the best of your abilities. And don’t fake your work. If you have that understanding of being authentic to your creative process, you will have that satisfaction in anything you create.
+ Who are some women in the art space are inspiring you right now?
Arghavan Khosravi. Grace Weaver. Nina Chanel Abney. Hilma af Klint. Sanam Khatibi. Prudence Flint. Rajni Perera. Rose Wylie. These are some of my favourite female artists that have shaped my views on polities, social and racial issues, being mindful in the way I carry myself, and the overall importance of being an artist.
+ Coffee or tea?
+ Your winter comfort food?
Chicken noodle soup or Pho.
+ What’s the last book you read or movie you watched that had an impact on you?
Currently, I’ve been reading a lot more articles on the New Yorker. I recently read a page-turner called “The Genius of Toni Morrison’s Only Short Story” written by Zadie Smith. These are two incredible writers and it’s so interesting to read the juxtaposition of their respective writing styles.