Sohelia Esfahani

In what way did your experience at The Department of Visual Arts at Western impact you & your career path?

My time during my MFA at Western allowed me to focus on conceptual aspects of my art practice. My thesis research was an invaluable experience in terms of opening new ways of approaching my work and grounding my art practice in cultural theory. This conceptual/theoretical grounding impacted my practice and solidified my career as an artist.

How have you been contributing to your community following your experience at Western?

I have been active in my community through art education, exhibitions and contributing to community groups as a juror.

Can you think back and share a memorable moment from your time here at Visual Arts?

One of my fond memories is the MFA critique sessions. They are nerve wracking and exciting, uncertain and an aha moment, exhausting and exhilarating, and inspiriting all at the same time!

What was the most important thing you learned during your time here?

Mentorship was one of the most important things that I learned from my supervisor (Patrick Mahon) and other faculty members at Visual Arts. As an artist and educator, it is very valuable to have mentors and be able to mentor the next generation of artists.

What is something you are passionate about? What are you working on right now?

I’m passionate about cultural translation and processes involved in cultural transfer and transformation, in particular in the context of multicultural societies such as Canada. Currently, I am working towards a solo exhibition in fall of 2017 and am creating work that addresses the notion of cultural translation.

Why do you think a career in the Visual Arts is important / valuable?

It is very important because artists are cultural producers and critical thinkers and contemporary art opens up dialogues regarding cultural and social aspects of life in various ways that usually do not happen otherwise.

What would your hopes be for the next 50 years of Visual Arts at Western?

My hope is that the university and other government bodies increase funding for Visual Arts program at Western and encourage more students to enroll in such programs. Visual Arts program trains young people with valuable skills such as out of the box problem solving and critical thinking that may not be the most apparent skill learned in a painting or drawing class. However, these kinds of skills are transferred to many aspects of life and various jobs and not necessarily a career as an artist. I hope in 50 years there are no misconceptions about the value of a degree in Visual Arts.