Bio / Statement

Sam Shahsahabi was born in Iran. He obtained his BFA from Azad University in Tehran. In the mid-1990s, Sam’s satirical cartoons were exhibited in the prestigious international caricature exhibitions: Nasredin Hodja and Yumiyury Shimbun. He also worked as a freelance graphic designer and cartoonist for Jonge- Sanaat Magazine, Film Magazine, and Air Kayhan. After completing an MFA at York University (Toronto) in 2002, he moved to Elliot Lake, Ontario to teach at White Mountain Academy of the Arts. He also served as the Director and Curator of the James K. Bartleman Art Gallery at White Mountain Academy. Sam is currently an assistant professor at Lakehead University where he has taught painting and creative drawing since 2009. He also specializes in public art and kinetic and mechanical installation. His artworks exhibited in Canada, Iran, Turkey, France and Japan.


I am fascinated with correlations and parodies between seemingly unrelated entities; heart and mind, body and soul, fire and rebirth, melody and silence, consumption and maintenance, dreams and peace, nightmares and wealth, measurement and a mans-world, politics and corporations, the new-plastic-world and the colors of nature, lines and visions, shamanism and dogmatism. At times my work is a product of wishful thinking and often manifested by constant struggle to make sense of conflicting actualities that surround me. Since the early 90’s I have lived the life of an exile. My work is essentially a deconstruction and documentation of the schism that exists between the life I have and the one that I left behind.

As a social responsibility I am intrigued by day-to-day global realities. As an artist I feel it is part of my duty to draw attention to the unjust in order to persuade others to do the same. Whether large or small, international events shape our collective consciousness. Known fast distract from the unknown. As the puzzle pieces fit together I begin to ask … “What makes a war criminal, president of a country?”, “How did the World Bank achieve so much power over developing countries?”, or “What caused the certainty for dominant powers to impose their version of life on others?”. In many regards we live in a global nightmare and for this reason it is important to always remain alert and always make art. I hope in art we create a safe and a healthy place for discussions.

The larger perspective aside, I am still an individual connected to my surroundings. A small entity in a massive universe of beings. Every morning I have to check on the Sleeping Giant (Landmark in Thunder Bay). I know with anticipation that the Giant will always have a teaching for me in perseverance, colour, volume shifts, and sometimes … a complete vanishing act.

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