Diverse Storytelling Artwork
Artist: Craig Scott
Newcomer: Yenny Yao
Medium: Photography – block mounted prints
I got the chance to go on a hike and take some photos with Yenny to the top of Battle Bluff on a beautiful fall evening in 2020.
Along the way I got to hear the remarkable story of her journey and how she ended up calling Kamloops home.
Yenny’s strength and positive outlook on life have helped her to overcome many challenges, that I hadn’t even considered a newcomer to Canada might face. She’s a truly inspirational woman, who now works to help other newcomers to Canada find their home here too.
One aspect of Kamloops that Yenny has fallen in love with is the ease of access to hiking trails and beautiful scenery. I feel like these photos show Yenny in her element, fully experiencing and appreciating everything Kamloops has to offer and living a life of adventure and beauty.
Artist: Insun Kang
Newcomer: Ibrahim and Ciqdem Cinaroglu (from Turkey)
Ibrahim and his wife Cigdem are from Turkey. They moved to Canada with two children to find more opportunities in their life and education for the children. It has been half a year since they have settled in Kamloops, and they are enjoying a new life here. They are full of positive energy and excitement for a new start in Canada. So, when I was talking with them on FaceTime, I decided to reflect their positive energy onto the canvas.
Canada is known for the cultural mosaic that immigrants from all over the world live together. Also, Turkey is known for its beautiful mosaic patterns as well. So, I came up with an idea to combine Canadian and Turkish symbols together to portray the conjunction of two cultures. The doves represent Ibrahim’s family and all immigrant families coming to Canada with hope and dreams.
Artist: Insun Kang
Newcomer: Insun Kang (from South Korea)
Title: Life is Unpredictable
My immigration to Canada was not originally in my plan. I came to Canada to study English and explore different parts of the world. Then, I met my husband while we were in TRU, Kamloops. We eventually went separate ways after graduation because we were both too young to consider a marriage and I wasn’t ready to stop my urge for adventure. After 8 years, we somehow started contacting again. He found me on Facebook! Looking back now, it’s funny that Facebook helped us back together. I only hear this kind of story from other people, but it happened. When we ‘agreed’ to get married, we stated to prepare my immigration paper from Korea and Canada. I moved to Kamloops in the summer of 2014. Life is unpredictable in a good way to me. Being an artist wasn’t in my plan either. But here I am. I wanted to make this painting like children’s book. Colorful, easy, and a little weird. The flower on the head of the girls is the national flower of South Korea, Rose of Sharon. The pine tree is my birth tree my parents planted in their garden. The pattern at the bottom is “Dancheong”, traditional Korean decorative patterns used on woodend buildings. Magpie is considered to bring “good news”. I see Magpie birds a lot in Kamloops, which makes me feel more home.
Artist: Laura Passerello
Newcomer: Amal Sari (from Jordan)
Title: A Better Future
My painting takes a view of a woman, Amal, and her family, coming to Canada. I enjoyed Amal’s description of the celebrations in her homeland of Jordan, such as Eid and Ramadan, they enjoyed before coming to Canada. When she described the holidays it sounded a lot like our Christmas. My first thought was to paint the diversity of our cultures, but I ended up thinking more about the similarities. The image in my mind began as two very different places. And two very different cultures (which we are), but Amal had pointed out that there are also many similarities, and I realized that as people, we are all very similar. Friends, family and celebrations are universal everywhere you go.
So the final image, which began as almost a Before/After picture, ended up with a smoother transition and the exact border is a bit blurry (figuratively speaking), and although there are differences on each side, the plants are still green, children are always still curious, the moon is always in the sky, and people still have the qualities that makes us who we are, no matter where we are. ~ Laura Anne
Artist: Lorel Sternig
Newcomer: Mariana Guerra (from Mexico)
Title: Tree of Plenty
As an artist, Art and nature really helped me through the lockdown period and when I heard Mariana’s story it resonated with me. Mariana says “As a newcomer, I wanted to meet new people, so I signed up as a volunteer. At the beginning, I was not aware about how the harvest was shared so my first basket of cherries was a truly unexpected gift. The program made a lot of sense to me. I was able to access some food in exchange for a little work and time. Fresh food! Just picked! From the perspective of someone who always had lived in a big city and had never had the chance to participate in a harvest, this program was a real privilege. From the perspective of building a better world, this program represented for me the essence of social justice: giving food access to those in need.” (Kamloops This Week – OCTOBER 31, 2019)
When I read this story about her I wanted to create something that gave honor to this direction in her life and something that could give a feeling of hope to those in the community also feeling the effects of the lockdown experience. In the background of the tree and its abundance of fruit is the familiar view of a Kamloops landscape, her new home.
Artist: Marianna Abutalipova
Newcomer: Manjinder Kaur (from India)
Title: The Journey
As a painter I decided to express the journey of a newcomer in a painting. Manjinder Kaur is from India and followed her husband’s dream to get settled in Canada. Manjinder`s husband is a sailor, so I tried to paint a little boat that is trying to figure out the way to the ultimate destination: Canada. Lots of pink, her favorite colour, and a little butterfly, she said she likes them: to guide the way.
Travelling somewhere is always taking a chance and a risk, especially when moving from one country to another. So in my painting I tried to paint a little boat that would take Manjinder and her husband somewhere to a beautiful place full of nature, space and colour. When Manjinder speaks of her country she is thinking and missing: festivals, sweet and colours as well… so in the painting the colours are bright, things are chaotic as I try to express these things she is missing while on the journey.
Artist: Peter Darah
Newcomer: Sara Arias (from Colombia)
Title: Peoples Views vs Her View
After having a conversation with Sara, I was struck by the love of her country Colombia and her wish that people could see it as she does and not as the country from the movie Narcors. So this painting depicts the beauty of Medellin as seen through Sara’s eyes and faded above is Pablo Escobar with Cocaine as representation for how the majority of the world views Colombia. I tried to depict that there’s more to Colombia than most people see in the news and TV shows. I chose mixed media because it gives the work a wonderful finish.
Artist: Tanvir Kaur
Newcomer: Marina Lee
Title: A New Life
The newcomer that I was asked to connect with was Marina Lee. From the start of her story to the end, I was nothing but inspired and intrigued. From Pakistan to Canada, she’s had quite the rollercoaster ride. It felt more like a move than someone’s actual life. Having said that, I could resonate with it very well because I moved from India to the Middle East when I was very young. Marina Lee made her move to the Middle East initially as well. The reasons might’ve been different but we both connected very well on the feeling of leaving and our similar experiences in the Middle East. It was nice to meet someone from the same place I have come from. We had lots to talk about. Things ranging from people to malls to various middle eastern and Asian foods.
The reason I chose painting as my medium of art is because I have been painting since the time I was a toddler. I felt like this was the best way I could portray someone’s life journey. The best part was that marina lee is also a painter by passion, and she had lots of input in my artwork throughout the process. It was overall a great experience.
Artist: Leah Bojey
Newcomer: Maka Williams (from Georgia, Europe)
Title: Maka’s Journey
Maka’s journey is one of love, hope, strength, courage and resilience. Like most immigrants, Maka came to Canada to realize a better future for herself and her family. Hope, love and new life with greater opportunities. She is from a country steeped in heritage, tradition and culture. A country that fought hard for its independence and freedom. It is no wonder she is so strong and resilient. It is no easy feat to leave your home and family relatives to start over in a foreign land. It is her positive attitude and optimism that pulls her through. Maka is vibrant, genuine and sincere. She is proud of her culture and heritage. She carries it with her wherever she goes. Sharing it with others freely, enriching their lives with new experiences and tastes. It helps Maka to miss home a little less. The hardest thing, what is left behind versus what lies ahead. I was inspired by the beauty and vibrancy of her home land. Georgia is also where my ancestry lies, with my great grandfather immigrating to Canada with his parents over 100 years ago. It was a joy to learn the many similarities between our cultures even after 100 years plus! Not to mention how much our landscape here in Kamloops resembles that of Rustavi, Georgia. This also brings Maka much comfort when she is feeling lonely for home. And so, my painting is a blending / or collage of sorts. The bright historical architecture of Maka’s home land, symbolizing her roots, history, culture and vibrancy. With scenes of Canada – Fredericton and Kamloops where she has built a new life and established new connections despite the challenges she faced. Overcoming her fears and loneliness, readjusting to a whole new world.
Artist: Adriana Arzeta Soldeville and Ana Maria Barragan Arzeta
Newcomer: Opena Family, Rogden, Judith (Zapphire), Raj, Rafa (from the Philippines)
Title: Canada is Home. Home is Canada
I met with the Openas by video conference. They told me the story of their journey to Canada and it was easy to get inspired by their resilience, perseverance, hope and faith. It resonated much with me, being an immigrant myself. I was really taken by their strength. I learnt they value family the most in life and they are a young family with small children which inspired me to create a children’s book so it could be meaningful to all of them. My daughter created the images which I think is a nice touch as it follows their example of family union. I hope people get inspired by their amazing journey to live in this beautiful country and appreciate their contribution to our community. There is much to learn from them. It was my pleasure to honour their story with my work.
Artist: Stace DeWolf
Newcomer: Marzena Chichosa (from Poland)
Title: Portrait Of Marzena Chichosa
Marzena Chichosa grew up in a village near the sea in Poland which was very important to her. I incorporated 4 beekeepers’ hives to represent her husband and three kids. I chose a beach image from Poland to represent that importance. Beekeeping has been in Marzena’s family for generations so I wanted to honor that with this portrait.
Artist: Alfi Elden
Newcomer: Marziyeh (Mari) Shahraeini (from Iran)
Title: In a Persian Garden with Mari
Medium: Pendant – Amethyst (Brazil), a semi-precious gemstone (quartz), is considered capable of stimulating the crown chakra, aiding in meditation and thus helping to still one’s thoughts. As a Wind element stone, it stimulates the mind, intuitive and psychic abilities and one’s connection to upper or spiritual realms. By embodying these properties, amethyst is a powerful tool for protection, purification, spiritual expansion and cognitive understanding. Because of its deep violet color, it is the center of the pendant and represents Mari.
Fire Opal (Queretaro, Mexico), a semi-precious gemstone (silicate), awakens passion, stimulates the creative self and the expression of one’s emotions through art. Where shyness, fear or shame hold one back, fire opal eases inhibitions and allows for greater enjoyment and less self-consciousness. Because of the fiery nature of light and color in the two opals, it represents Mari’s determination to pursue her dream to come to Canada, to pursue her passion (teaching special needs children) and her ability to manifest her emotional desire in a real way overcoming fear and aloneness to do so.
Ruby (Madagascar), a precious gemstone (corundum), energizes and activates one’s physical, mental and emotional bodies. It enhances passion and fortitude, allowing the wholehearted pursuit of one’s aspirations. Rubies vibrate with an enthusiasm for life, instilling an open-hearted willingness to make whatever leaps of faith are required to move forward. Ruby is a stone of courage helping one to be comfortable about the unknown. It stimulates the flow of life-force energy or chi through the body, strengthening one’s ability to meet needs and manifest one’s desires. For all these attributes, the rubies in the pendant speak to Mari’s courage and open-heartedness, the way she found the strength and energy to enter a new country, a new culture and to thrive within it. Each of the rubies represents one of the qualities Mari had to call upon in order to make her journey from Tehran, Iran to Kamloops, Canada: courage, passion, enthusiasm, adventurousness and life force. As an Earth element stone, the rubies also represent her connection to the gardens, the flowers, the landscapes of wherever she is.
Sculpture: Manto – Sanwa Fibre paper, watercolor, acrylic gel medium (gloss), polymer varnish with UVLS (matte); Head scarf – nylon microfilament, pattern tissue paper. I met Marziyeh (Mari) Shahraeini for the first time on Facebook Chat, then again face-to-face on Facebook Video Chat. She is from Tehran, Iran. Ten months ago, she came alone to Kamloops to complete a Master’s degree in Education for Special Needs children and to stay in Canada. Alone she cried very much all the way here and every day, missing especially her daughter, who is 8 years old. Now, her daughter and her husband are here with her.
In Tehran, she listened to the advice of her mother-in-law and has become an excellent seamstress. In Tehran, Mari wore a black mantoo (a coat or outer covering) and headscarf in her work place, but could wear a colorful headscarf and mantoo in other places. In Kamloops, she can wear whatever she wishes.
In the sculptural piece “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” I want people to see how Mari can flourish in her choices in her new life. What was previously a structure that Mari had to fit herself into is transformed by the application of Mari’s favorite colour, violet, to suggest a new world in which she can express herself more freely. In the process of laying out a pattern and constructing the mantoo garment from Sanwa fibre paper and stitching nylon filament material into a headscarf, I imagined Mari constructing her new life as a mother, an educator, a seamstress.
On the back of the mantoo is painted the phrase “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. In Farsi, written and read from left to right and Mari’s first language, it speaks to how Mari realized special things about her family, how even simple things, like her father singing as he cooked a meal for the family, became a longing and a memory to treasure.
Iran is a country famous for its gardens and its flowers. When Mari showed me the table for Haft Seen, the celebration of Nowrooz, the Persian New Year, I was struck by the multitude of colors and knew that, as a jeweler, I had to make something colorful with Mari, represented by the violet amethyst stone, at the center.
Both pieces embody my experience meeting and talking with Mari about her life. The manto, headscarf and pendant are, for me, animated with the presence and spirit of Mari.
As I came to know Mari for both her courage and her openness, it is with mindful gladness that I made objects intended to represent Mari’s sincerity and devotion to her family, her communities and her countries.