Bianca DaherRecent grad Bianca Daher is mounting an exhibition of her art June 16 in the Artspeak Gallery.

Homage to family centre of recent grad’s solo art exhibition

Poring over family artifacts, documents, and photographs, recent fine arts graduate Bianca Daher discovered a way to process her grief and honour her family through her artwork.

The loss of multiple family members in a short time frame left her to work through many emotions. As a source of comfort, she began collecting documents and old photographs, digging deeper into her family history.

“I had the chance to go through old family documents while cleaning out their homes and found passports and citizenship cards from the ’60s, which I scanned and organized into binders,” Daher said.

“I did the same for both sides of the family. I sorted through a shoebox of old photos, including my grandmother’s wedding pictures, and scanned them all. I also looked through postcards, noting what was written on them. At the same time, I’m reaching out to aunts and uncles trying to get as many photos as I can.”

She expanded her collection and knowledge through an ancestry website, and with that, Daher decided to make an homage to her family by incorporating the documents and photographs she had found into her art through a blend of materials and methods for her final project.

She will be showcasing her art by hosting a solo exhibition, ‘Tending to Time’ at Artspeak Gallery from June 16 to 22.

“I hope it inspires people to discover their ancestry. I know my ancestry up to my great-grandparents, but beyond that, no one really knows much about our family history,” Daher said.

“Both sides of my family are immigrants, and we’ve lost access to photographs and family documents from earlier generations. Any existing documents would likely be kept by a church in another country, which I cannot access. I hope this encourages people to wonder about their family's documents and origin.”

Going into university, Daher said, she was uncertain about the direction she wanted her art to take. Although she had always had a strong technical talent, she sought to add more depth to her pieces.

“I came in with a lot of skills and I was doing hyper-realistic portraits, but I wasn’t really making anything that truly meant something to me,” she explained.

Over Daher’s four years at the School of Creative Arts, with the help of courses in art history and contemporary art, she learned to take that talent, utilize a range of materials, and create something more meaningful to her.

“I feel like once you learn how to think critically about your work and other people’s work and just the world around you — whether it’s art or politics or anything — it almost changes the way you think,” Daher said.

“There are a ton of classes that I’ve taken that truly did change the way I think and the way that I approach making art, like the mediums that I use, and then how it looks. Not everything has to be hyper-realistic. You can make a sculpture, you can make mixed media. My experience at SoCA definitely changed my practice.”

Daher crossed the stage last week alongside nearly 5,000 other graduates at Convocation, an experience which came with mixed emotions, as she’s excited for the next chapter but will miss the community of artists working alongside one another. She plans to continue her studies at the master’s level in the fall.

The Artspeak Gallery is located at 1942 Wyandotte St. East. Learn more about Daher’s work and her upcoming exhibition.

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