Sarah Alinia Ziazi is an award winning Toronto-based Muralist and Illustrator. As a graduate from OCAD University, she’s passionate about creating engaging and conversation worthy images from her own personal experiences to conceptional narratives. She recently completed three hand-painted murals for The Drake’s new Modern Wing extension. This site-specific mirror installation entitled, “Primary Idols” was created with themes of self-acceptance in mind. It 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.
We recently caught up with her to learn more…
How did you arrived at this incredible opportunity to show your work?
Sarah: I was fortunate enough to be contacted by the Curatorial Consultant, Ashley Mulvihill a few years ago to be a part of this opportunity. She was very considerate and openminded in allowing me to take as many creative leeways to get to the final works. I was chosen among a handful of amazing artists to create various artwork from sculptures to murals for the new Modern Wing extension.
Walk us through your creative process here – the design elements of The Drake and the space you were given to work with, and how that was factored into your installation?
Sarah: I was allocated three mirrored wall spaces to paint. My initial sketches were proposed with an interactive element between the viewers, the mirrors and the artwork itself. I thought that could be a beautiful way of introducing a dialogue within the design elements of The Drake. Themes of adding female figures came naturally because it’s part of my usual illustrative work. When the final designs were approved, I just had to figure out what tools and paint supplies to use, and factor in the dimensions. By the time the murals came to fruition, I was very happy with the way it turned out.
Tell us more about “Primary Idols” and what inspired your message with the three women shown.
Sarah: “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. 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.
Can the public go and view it?
Sarah: Yes, the public can view it for the next two years! It’s located on the second, third, and fourth floors of the elevator landings.
As an artist, how have you been trying to keep creative throughout the pandemic?
Sarah: I go on hour-long walks everyday. It’s a meditative way to clear my head for a while. I can be very productive with my work afterward. I also discipline myself to get a daily drawing in my sketchbook to improve that practice of getting down ideas, even if it’s good or bad.
What inspires you and your creative process?
Sarah: I’m very inspired by daily mundane things like making sure I have a clean studio space to work in, and dressing up just to feel like I’m doing something productive during the pandemic. I used to live in my head a lot a few years ago and it prompted a mental strain on myself and the people closest to me. But now I’m trying to be more preset. I think it’s good for me. I get a lot more work done by being good to myself first and foremost. It really translates into my creative process.
Who are a few of your favourite artists and places to see art?
Sarah: Stuart Davis. Yue Minjun. Prudence Flint. Jacob Lawrence. Hilma af Klint. These are some of my favourite artists. Going to the AGO is also a great place to see art. It’s always so dreamy. They recently just had an exhibition featuring works from Shuvinai Ashoona, an Inuk artist who’s so inspirational.