January 28—February 25, 2017
In continuation with Soheila Esfahani’s ongoing research of cultural translation, Interstice focuses on the notion of ornament as portable culture. The artist explores the processes involved in circulation of ornamentation, and its dissemination and reinsertion within various cultural traditions. Through appropriating and recontextualizing souvenir objects as ornately-patterned artworks, Esfahani questions reification, representation, and identity.
Recurring in Esfahani’s works are laser-cut motifs. The artist has laser-etched a pattern from a mosque in Iran overtop of kitsch, laser-cut shapes sold as souvenirs in various countries. Uniting these forms through their mode of production, and combining them in a single object Esfahani, thwarts all distinction: cultural motifs are blended, and bifurcation of “high” art and “low” object becomes impossible.
Soheila K. Esfahani received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo. She is a recipient of grants from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. As part of the SSHRCC grant, Esfahani participated in a research/creation group entitled Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds: Engaging Water as Culture and Resource through Contemporary Art. Esfahani’s work is represented in public and private collections including the Canada Council’s Art Bank. She is a recipient of 2016 Waterloo Region Arts Awards (Visual Arts category) and was nominated for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK in 2015. Currently, she is a lecturer at the University of Waterloo and works from her studio at Kitchener’s artist–run centre, Globe Studios.