July 28 – September 9, 2023
The Art Incubator Gallery
What If I Knew?
Opening Reception: Friday July 28th, 7 -10 pm
What If I Knew? is an exhibition of recent works by Mona Sahi, an Iranian-born and Edmonton-based visual artist. Her body of work provides a visually compelling reference to the dramatic events that have been taking place in Iran since September 2022, and explores the insidious and corruptive nature of power. She employs diverse mediums that engage visitors on multiple sensory modalities to convey this concept that is particularly specific to certain parts of the world, and yet a universal reality for humankind.
Upon entry, the artist invites the visitors to wear a blindfold over one eye, thereby limiting their vision to one eye at a time of viewing the artwork. This embodied gesture stimulates the live experience of hundreds of protestors in Iran, who were shot in the eyes by security forces during the uprising that was ignited in September 2022. Mona’s stunning series of paintings offers a powerful visual representation of the theme while her adjunct installation of ceramic pieces in the shape of spent bullet shell casings on black sand along with a series of drawings on triangular birch panels additionally underscore the fragmented and destructive nature of power.
In her exhibition “Symptom”, which was presented in 2020 at Kalhor Gallery in Rasht, Iran, Mona Sahi reflected on violence against animals, using them as a symbol for all living beings. This concept resurfaced when in September 2022, a young girl Jina Mahsa Amini was murdered by the morality police in Iran for not wearing her hijab properly. This dramatic event sparked series of massive protests, with the people of Iran rising against a corrupt government. The artist’s current body of work is deeply influenced by this continued uprising. It reflects on the powerful emotions and actions of the Iranian people and ponders the larger picture of those nations across the world who have bravely resisted against violence throughout history.
As Mona Sahi says “… I want to raise awareness about social and political issues that impact our world today, and I hope to inspire viewers to engage with these issues in meaningful and transformative ways.”
Mona Sah grew up in Bandar-e Anzali, a small city in Northern Iran; the artist’s education in art began in high school with a focus on graphic design. She continued her undergraduate studies in design, which she eventually switched to visual arts with a focus on painting. This shift began her artistic journey, driven by her sensitivity to the world around her. While working toward a BFA in Painting at the University of Guilan in Rasht, Iran, Mona participated in several art exhibitions in Rasht, Bandar-e Anzali, Isfahan, and Tehran. While pursuing her artistic journey, she started teaching visual arts to children in Rasht, immediately after her graduation from the University of Guilan. Shortly before immigrating to Canada in 2020, Sahi’s compelling body of work was featured in her solo exhibition “Symptom” at Kalhor Gallery in Rasht. Since her arrival in Edmonton in 2022, Mona has continued her art teaching career and has been responsible for organizing and leading several art workshops at the Paint Spot in Edmonton. Her works have been exhibited in several group exhibitions at Harcourt House Artist Run Centre and Naess Gallery. Mona has been an active member of Edmonton’s visual arts community and currently practices art in her studio at Harcourt House.
Top Image: From the series “Metamorphosis“(detail) 2023, drawing on birch panel.
Photo courtesy of the artist