Ridvan celebrates Baha’u’llah’s time in the garden of Ridvan where He publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God. The Ridvan Festival is 12 days long and is also the time of year where Baha’is elect their governing bodies.
Shirin Sahba’s artwork makes me positively giddy. I could look at it all day long! I was lovingly gifted one of her prints (which you’ll see below, it’s the one title “Flora + Fauna”) and I put it in our bedroom so it would be one of the first things I see in the morning and one of the last before I close my eyes at night.
Shirin’s Sahba’s work has made subtle appearances on Baha’i Blog a couple of times. For one, her art is the stunning cover of Luke Slott’s album Year of the Nightingale and he talks about the process of commissioning and woking with Shirin in Episode 11 of the Blogcast with Rainn Wilson. You may also remember her work from the movie poster for The Gardener. The details of Shirin’s pieces and the joyful stories they tell are so captivating to me that I really wanted to create an Images post that would shine a spotlight on them and only them. Shirin, gracious as ever, agreed to share some images of her work and to tell us about them. Below you’ll find a small gallery and a short interview. As brief as they are, I hope they leave you visually refreshed and renewed!
Dance with Mama
Escaping the Souk
Flora + Fauna
Utopia and Fly
Above the Luminous
Cactus Kind of Love
Baha’i Blog: Thank you for sharing those visually lush images with us! I’d love to know more about you. To start, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a visual artist?
I was born into a family of artists. My father is an architect and my mother a designer. They traveled and settled wherever my father had a project, and because of them I had a chance to travel the world and experience many countries and cultures first-hand. Having been raised a Baha’i and having these opportunities to visit dozens of countries made for a colourful childhood filled with exposure to so many different people, art forms and landscapes. These experiences have shaped who I am as an artist and what themes I choose to explore.
I married quite young and my partner and I chose to continue this lifestyle of travel and have lived in different countries together. We recently moved from Beijing, China to Barcelona, Spain. We have a little toddler who also delights in travel and now thanks to him I am re-experiencing the world though fresh eyes.
Baha’i Blog: What inspires you?
I am always looking to new sources of inspiration; constantly hunting in my travels for new gems to source ideas from, whether it is from ancient art, architecture, literature, antiques or music. Since moving to Barcelona a year and a half ago I have been also quite taken by the exciting art and design scene here.
Baha’i Blog: What is your creative process like? How do you choose the subjects of your work?
I stick to a really strict routine, because I find that I create more effectively under some self inflicted pressure, but otherwise it is an organic process really: I typically spend a few days meditating on my next project, sometimes even traveling or getting out to get inspiration if I need it, and once I envision an idea, I begin. I usually don’t sketch my ideas out, I just let the spirit of the painting unfold, and the theme to naturally emerge as it develops. I work on a few canvases at once… While layers of paint are drying I switch between paintings. I will admit that with each project there is a palpable excitement and I just cannot wait to work each day.
Baha’i Blog: What projects are you currently working on?
I am really excited about being approached by the publishing house Chronicle Books to do an art book of my work. It will be released in Spring of 2018. Other than this I am constantly producing new work in my studio!
Baha’i Blog: Thanks, Shirin! This has been really inspiring!
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Criselda R. Figuerres (May 5, 2017 at 10:53 AM)
Nice interview, Sonjel; Shirin’s art is a happy one. It is how the future looks!
Marko Sebastiani (May 5, 2017 at 2:20 AM)
Hi Marko! Thanks for your kind words! Yes, her art is very happy and it is how I imagine the future too!
Sonjel Vreeland (May 5, 2017 at 3:29 PM)