Neda Kianmehr is a new artist with a beautiful history, and The Gallery of Student Art (GoSA) will be featuring her artwork in University Centre Dec. 5-16.. The exhibition is called Forgotten Swing, a title was chosen for a very specific reason.
“All of us experience, in our childhood, sitting on a swing dreaming,” said Kianmehr in an interview with the Manitoban. The illustrations that will be on display are intended to bring people back into a different time in their lives, when moments like these were possible.
This shift back into the past is both interesting and understandable because, professionally, Kianmehr is an illustrator of children’s books. Kianmehr’s biography is almost as interesting as her work. Originally, Kianmehr was born in Iran. When she was six, her family moved to Africa.
“As a child,” said Kianmehr, “I was fortunate to live in Ghana, and this affected my career in the future. Ghana was beautiful. It had natural, colourful textiles. Sometimes when illustrating, I see those colours in my work.”
From Ghana, Kianmehr moved to Italy.
“I had always wanted to live in Italy. I went there to study my illustrations. At the beginning it was scary, but I really loved Italy. People were friendly and I learned the most in Italy. I got my advanced illustration certificate from Scuola del Fumetto (comic school) of Milan in 2009. I published my first picture book in 2009 and that was the happiest day in my life.”
Beginning in the Middle East, then moving to Africa and Europe, Kianmehr finally immigrated to Canada with her family last year. Some of the illustrations in her exhibit are images from fairy tales. One example of the stories that inspired her work is One Thousand and One Nights, a fairy tale originating in Persia. Other pieces of her collection come from her own childhood.
“I used to spend a lot of time with my grandma when I was young. She used to tell me stories.”
This childhood experience is reflected in Kianmehr’s work and in this exhibit. “I see my illustrations as visual expressions of childhood tales and memories, dreams within myth and reality.”
Kianmehr is not only an illustrator. “I really like to draw people for leisure — in coffee shops or on the bus. I always have my sketchbook. Sometimes, in the middle of my sketch, they get off the bus. You never know what is going to happen, or when the person you are drawing is just going to get up and leave.”
The small knick-knacks that we gather in our childhoods are amazing and can be beautiful; it is also interesting the pieces that are left behind — on purpose or by accident. If there is a moment in your past where your little pre-kindergarten fists are clutching the metal loops of a swing set, the new GoSA exhibit may interest you. Similarly, if these memories have faded into the slurry phase of your adulthood, maybe there is a forgotten swing somewhere that would be nice to see again.
“There was always a story to my painting,” said Kianmehr, “and I love the accidents that sometimes happen.”
Neda Kianmehr’s *Forgotten Swing will be on display at the Gallery of Student Art from Dec. 5-16.*