Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Naaz Niazi, a fifth year photography student in thesis.
In this series, Naaz and Morgan talk about collage as a form of image making, working as an Iranian within the Canadian context and exploring multiple identities through photography.
Who or what are your artistic inspirations?
My inspiration come from anything that makes me pause and think further about art. For example, references to the everlasting masterpieces of architecture sites in Iran, Persian Miniature paintings, Persian textile and Persian geometric pattern have been an inspiration for me to create an art with new meaning.
I’ve recently discovered a selection of amazing art through Instagram pages such as art_psycho , love.watts, artbasel and collage_expo introduce contemporary artists and instantly update me in the world of art.
What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?
I’ve always been drawn to subject matters such as visual narrative and constructed scenery, paradoxes of culture, magic realism and surrealism in photography. My approach to photography is explored through self-representation and performance while exploring the space between the real and unreal.
Transposed 1, Digital Collage, 2017
What drives you to work with that subject matter?
As an Iranian-Canadian artist the ambition to share a true expressive work in themes of cultural identity was always an element of interest. My aim was to combine the traditional identity versus the modern identity and the notions of the self as an Iranian in society. I am also interested that through juxtaposition, I can offer a relationship between objects, subjects, locations and their new environment while provoking the viewer’s imagination and bringing memory to a constructed reality.
Do you work in any other mediums and how does that inform your work?
I’ve been drawn to create a painterly aesthetic to my photography and lithography has given me the ability to create a texture similar to a painting. I have also worked within matte medium transfer on vellum which creates a delicate see through piece that works well with light and installation. These mediums take photography out of its 2- dimensionality and create a closer relationship between the artist and their work.
In Transposed (your thesis work), you have been dealing with themes as a transnational artist and straddling different identities living in Canada and being Iranian. What is your experience working as a transnational artist and how do you bring this into your work?
As an Iranian artist I dealt with duality of culture, identity, memory and nostalgia, Iwas hoping to produce a work that shares a true expression of this experience while using assemblage, juxtaposition, and manipulation to create a visual narrative that provides an open-end format to the viewer and brings a sense of experience to the audience.
Transposed 2, Digital Collage, 2017
Working within collaging, how do you decide what different materials and images to bring into making a single image?
In my imagery I mostly use pictures I shot previously . I believe that each image had a purpose when it was shot , so i’m constantly looking through new and old images while developing a concept .I also look for symbolism and iconic images within the Persian culture.
How do you think your art practice has changed or evolved over your time at OCAD?
I am so glad that throughout my years at ocad vie experienced a combination of mediums . I was always interested to explore art through different mediums and am glad that I took such multi-disciplinary courses in painting , printmaking , digital art and video .
Transposed 3, Digital Collage, 2017
Where do you see your career path going and who would you most like to work with?
I am going to continue making my art and am hoping to collaborate with more local artists and be a part of the artist community in Toronto .
Are there any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?
I’m so thrilled to be working with so many amazing people through my journey at OCAD . Nicholas Pye have been supporting my ideas and art for the past three years .I was lucky enough to be mentored by April Hichox and Nick Pye in my thesis year.
Throughout my liberal courses Mark Dickinson and Gabby Moser affected me expanding my knowledge in a critical way and their passion in teaching and learning .
Untitled, Digital Collage, 2017
To see more of Naaz’s work visit her instagram.
See Naaz’s work at the
102nd Graduate Exhibition at OCAD University, May 3rd-7th.
Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.
Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams
About the writer: Morgan is a fourth year photography student and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative spaces. She is the Art Director for The RUDE Collective, a student representative on the Photography Curriculum Committee and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.