Swedish Iranian artist, Shama Vafaipour, takes us on her journey from being an actress to becoming an artist! She decided to be bold, take chances and leap into her most inner self, only to reveal it to the world through Sweden’s biggest theatrical stages and later, through her art. Shama uses different artistic techniques including illumination art, using pure gold powder, to digital art and photography! I recently attended her exhibit at Kista Galleria where I admired how she incorporated her vibrant and colorful culture into her artwork:
R. We first met when I was reviewing, “Swedish Hijabis” a.k.a. “Svenska Hijabis,” the theatrical sensation about what it’s really like being a hijabi. It was an innovative and creative way to battle the misconceptions of hijab and it was truly inspiring. You are now fully using your creativity in art مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ! Tell us about this transition.
S. Thank you! I’ve been a creative person my whole life, and have put my creativity into different fields during different periods of life and I really love to actualize my ideas. When I got the opportunity to be a part of “Swedish Hijabis,” I didn’t see any other option to myself than to participate, even though I had no experience of being on stage before! It was a very relevant, important and fun project to be part of. I learned very much not only about the field itself and acting, but also because I let myself free and dared to believe in my art more than I had done before.
So, for me, it was never a transition from the artform acting to other artforms. It was more a transition in myself, from being a silent artist to an artist that dares to explore, share and most importantly, someone who dares to expose herself. Because I believe that’s what every artist does, exposing their inner self in their art. This shift was definitely revolutionary and much needed in my own journey as a multiartist.
R. You have recently had some incredible exhibits. Tell us about the kind of response you have received both in Sweden and abroad.
S. It has felt absolutely amazing to be a part of an exhibition in one of Scandinavians biggest malls, Kista Galleria. It was actually a spontaneous project that was planned less than three weeks before the opening, compared to a “normal” timeframe which is around 1-2 months. It was a very good experience though, where I learned more about what it requires to actually create an exhibition. The best part was to actually meet people and talk with the visitors/viewers about my art. One of the most interesting parts was that the exhibition was located in a mall. It went well and was an experience to remember.
R. You really incorporate your Iranian culture into your art. What is it about your background that inspires your art, that has shaped the person you are today?
S. I spent most of my childhood in Iran and most of my adulthood in Sweden, which has given me the great gift of having access to both cultures. That’s also something that is reflected in my art. I’m inspired by the colors, patterns, shapes and lifestyle in Iranian culture. I love to incorporate that with the minimalistic expressions in western, modern art. I enjoy painting with different mediums and my goal is to merge these two different ways of lives I’ve had since it reflects the diaspora both I and others are experiencing.
R. What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
S. The best advice I can give to aspiring artists is to keep believing the art you’re making! That does not mean one is not allowed to make mistakes or that one has to create “perfection.” That’s not what art is about. Let your inner self manifest through your art and that, itself, is something to cherish. What an artist should never do is to compromise their art for others’ satisfaction.
R. How can we follow your journey?