From Student to Teacher with Ebti Nabag - Nia Centre for the Arts

From Student to Teacher with Ebti Nabag

By Nia Centre, p
Posted on May 24, 2022

Many years ago, Ebti Nabag walked through the doors at Nia Centre as a young photographer looking for an outlet to express her creativity. She came out of that early programming a certified, award-winning emerging photographer. Inspired by artists like Prince Gyasi, Nadine Ijewere and Jorian Charlton: her work ranges from documentary-style photography to poignant, intimate portraits. In a story that comes full circle, Ebti has been able to use her expertise to educate young photographers like herself. For over 6 years, she has been leading our Outreach Photography Program with Gallery 44.

We chatted to Ebti about her work with young people and what it means to be able to pour back into the community. 


What drew you to visual arts ?

I’ve always been a visual learner despite not clearly being able to articulate it as a teenager. I was always able to engage with images and find opportunities for self expression, visually. The idea of engaging with social issues through photography is something I was introduced too later on in my teens.

How did you first become involved with Nia Centre? 

I was looking for a creative outlet after I finished my undergraduate studies. At the time, Nia Centre was one of the few organizations offering visual arts programming to youth in the GTA.

What skills did you gain in programs at the Centre? 

I picked up technical photography skills like working with a DSLR camera, working with analog cameras and developing images in the darkroom. 

I also got one of the first  opportunities to exhibit my work through the Centre. Having a public exhibition early on in my career allowed me to gain exposure within the arts community, and the industry. Due to that early start in getting my work out there, I was able to secure more opportunities that have propelled my career forward.  

As a facilitator, what is your approach to teaching youth? 

My approach to teaching is to create an environment that allows for engagement, critical thinking, and exploration. I welcome experimentation and play. Students become engaged in the classroom when they see the relevance of their learning in their own lives. I try to engage students in the course by using diverse teaching methods and encouraging their use of a variety of cognitive skills. Overall, once a safe environment is created, students are able to freely explore their creativity, and feel supported throughout their process.

Photography by Ebti Nabag

What is your favorite part about connecting with young people?

The curiosity and excitement young people have when starting out in photography and connecting with the art community. I continue to learn so much from young people, and be inspired. 

As an artist, what barriers do you face in finding community space and opportunities in Toronto? 

It used to be difficult meeting and connecting with artists that look like me and who share similar experiences. Having an organization that can facilitate creative connections with artists from the African diaspora through art programming, workshops, panel discussions, etc. has been inspiring, and motivating to continue creating work in this field. 

Opportunities are often missed if you are not affiliated with specific organizations. Having a space that is available for BIPOC artists, gives artists of colour more exposure, highlights our stories, skills and includes us in the larger arts community is so important.

We're opening our newly-renovated building in the fall of 2022. What will this space mean to you?  

It means more resources that will set me up for success. A community that is rooting for young Black artists in Toronto. A community that is building and contributing to the future of young artists in the GTA. 

Follow Ebti on social media at @ebti_n
Learn more about her at https://www.ebtinabag.com.

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