Youth set the scene for our latest Creative Challenge

By Lidia Abraha, p
Posted on October 8, 2020

“We live in Canada and it’s always cold, so you maybe have four months out of the year to shoot and create work,” says award-winning Toronto-based photographer Nabil Shash, “I have a lot of equipment myself, but the thing that was always missing was a backdrop.”

Nabil started painting his own backdrops as a way to continue creating during the coldest months of the year. Although he doesn’t describe himself as a painter, he found this to be a handy skill that helped continue developing his craft. 

This was the inspiration behind our latest Creative Challenge: Set the Scene. Nabil recorded an instruction video tutorial and we sent all supplies needed for young emerging artists to paint their own backdrops—and the results were stellar!

“When I saw the completed pieces of work, it was super incredible and inspiring. It made me want to create more myself too,” said Nabil.  

With mentorship from Nabil, our participants showed a range of skills and creative expression in their backdrops. Iris Okoro, used this challenge as a way to bring her poetry to life. She painted her backdrop black to contrast the colourful lines of poetry and prose.

Artwork by Nailah Ramcharan Gibbs
Artwork by Nailah Ramcharan Gibbs
Artwork by Iris Okoro
Artwork by Ghislan Timm
Artwork by Clayton Batson
Artwork by Marcus Artmstrong

Muna Youssouf, who was selected as the winner for this challenge, created a new series she calls “Phases of the Moon,” which displays her range of emotions against a sunny, bright backdrop. With her upcoming exhibition with Gallery 44, she hopes to incorporate this submission into her project. 

While working on this challenge, Muna never thought it would allow her to express her creativity and identity outside of her usual art form. “Developing as an artist requires you to pick up new skills, such as painting a backdrop when you don’t have things, that’s what I learned through this challenge,” she said.  

Muna had quite a few challenges through the process of creating her backdrop, At one point her piece got rained on and was completely drenched, but after adding more layers, the damage worked in her favour and gave texture to the final piece.

“It was just a disaster, but somehow it ended up working,” she laughed. “I learned how much creating artwork takes, and I have to start making time for it. But I also need a kick in the butt, like a challenge, I guess, to inspire me.”

Interested in participating in our next challenge? Keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook, or register with Creative Connect if you’re between the ages of 14-29. 

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