यारा YARA یارا is an artist collective created by Aaniya Asrani, Annie Canto and Reyhan Yazdani. While completing their MFA at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, they formed this collaboration out of friendship, mutual understanding and support for one another in envisioning and practicing community and kinship. As artists from various corners of the world, India, The United States, and Iran, YARA respectfully acknowledges their position as uninvited guests on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations.
YARA will invite 6 emerging artists with diverse practices to respond to collective prompts through a collaborative writing process that hopes to honour their lived experiences. The writing will then serve as inspiration for critical reflection from unique perspectives within the group, giving visual form to the ideas expressed. Through this process of co-creation and co-authorship, YARA aims to create a platform that amplifies BIPOC voices so that together, we can process the weight of this moment, rest in the knowledge that we are not alone, and ultimately form a community of care that can hold space for difference.
Consider the Hands that Wrote This, Yara Collective, 2020-2021
For their residency at Access Gallery’s PLOT 2020-2021, YARA created a virtual platform to collaboratively process the contemporary moment of crisis with a community of women of colour. They invited 6 artists; Adiba Muzaffar, Diane Hau Yu Wong, Fadwa Bouziane, Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, Nasim Farsani and Nura Ali, to respond to collective prompts such as “Where did we get our names?” “What is written on your forehead?” and “Would you tell me another story?” The questions were born out of YARA’s collective ponderings around identity, displacement and connection. In the process artists shared their lived experiences, and unearthed potent themes that ranged from discrimination and discomfort to ideas of home, cooking with plants, and the stories behind our names.
A year into the pandemic, this practice of gathering served to nurture and nourish the artists’ interconnectedness. “Consider the Hands that Wrote This” is a collaborative text that highlights the unique perspective and practices of these 9 women, as they came together to relate to, respond to, and hold space for one another’s stories. Currently, YARA is working on turning these stories into a limited-edition publication to share glimpses of their discoveries with a wider audience.
ADIBA MUZAFFAR is a writer and media artist interested in touch, embodiment, immersion and most recently the social evolution of art in virtual reality. A filmmaker and multimedia journalist in a past life, she takes forward an interest in critiquing media culture by writing for the Museum of Other Realities, among other things that pertain to her role of a Content Strategist. She is an alumni of Emily Carr University where she completed her MFA in 2018.
KEIMI NAKASHIMA-OCHOA is an immigrant settler of mixed heritage who was born on the lands of the Pur’hépecha, the Coca, and the Tecuexe. She is a student and artist whose practice incorporates reading, writing, weaving, printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture. Currently, she is living and working on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh, Xwməθkwəy̓əm, and Səlilwətaɬ, working with local galleries, and completing her BFA at Emily Carr University. She is interested in anti-colonial research and learning, accessible spaces, and liberated futures. You can find out more about her work and daily life here: IG: @earsighted
AANIYA ASRANI is an interdisciplinary artist, graphic designer and visual storyteller from Bangalore, India. She is an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples including the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam Nations. Currently, she is the Lead Community Artist at PosAbilities, a Neighbourhood Organizer with InWithForward and Sessional Faculty at Emily Carr University. Her art practice investigates social, political and cultural systems in order to critique and question existing injustices, with the ultimate goal of facilitating empathy across diverse communities and systemic disparities.
REYHAN YAZDANI is an interdisciplinary artist, designer and educator based in Vancouver. Her creative research-based practice revolves around themes of identity, land, and nomadism. She explores notions of place, loss and longing, and expressions of power through material inquiry, poetry and critical writing. She holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Tehran (2017) and an MFA from Emily Carr University (2019). IG: @reyhanehyazdanii
DIANE HAU YU WONG (She/Her) is an emerging curator and art historian based in unceded Coast Salish Territories & Tiohtiá:ke territory. She is an incoming Masters Candidate in Art History with Specialization in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the University of British Columbia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History from Concordia University in 2018. Her curatorial practice and research are largely based on the intersection between community and Cantonese diasporic identity. She most recently curated Centre A's 2019 recent graduate exhibition titled (dis)location (dis)connect (dis)appearance.
ANNIE CANTO is an artist and educator currently working on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. In 2020, she graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design with a Master's in Fine Arts where she now teaches as a sessional instructor. Annie works in collective publishing models like the zine, and explores prose, poetry, and print as methods to call-in and call-out through self-publication. She is active in her creative community as a board member of the Vancouver Artist Labour Union Cooperative, a unionized workers co-operative with a mission to transform labour practices within the arts and cultural sector. Most recently, she has been working as an arts educator and resident through the Artist in Residence Studio Program for Vancouver Public Schools 2020-21.
NURA ALI is a visual artist, community organizer and social activist. Her multidisciplinary practice engages issues of memory, place building, displacement and power. Nura has been involved in grassroots organizing in the non-profit sector for many years. Firstly at the Al Madad Foundation, an NGO that provides art and educational initiatives to displaced children living in refugee camps. Followed then by a move to the British Somali Community where she worked for a number of years on community education programs aimed at eradicating Female Genital Mutilation. Nura is committed to community-oriented organizing and for this reason became one of the founding members of the Vancouver Artists Labour Union Co-op, a unionized workers co-operative with a mission to transform labour practices within the arts and cultural sector.
FADWA BOUSIANE is an artist based in Squamish, BC, and born in Quebec Canada. She graduated from Emily Carr University in 2019 focusing her Master thesis on Trauma and performance art. She received her BFA at Concordia University. At the moment she is teaching at Emily Carr university and Capilano University. She has also been an artist in residency at Canadian Wilderness residency (Yukon), and Signal Fire (New-Mexico, Arizona). Her mixed heritage from Morocco and Haiti frame her conceptual practice. She is a multidisciplinary/performance artist working with themes that impose her cultural heritage on the viewer. Her practice exposes culturally charged concepts concerned with trauma, identity, diaspora, displacement, race and immigration. Fadwa’s interaction with these concepts is based on experiences of her family and community members. In her work, these concepts emerge as performance art pieces and storytelling. The atmosphere of each work, the anxieties and desires provoked, are heightened through the proximity of the viewer to the art. By shifting back and forth between performance art and storytelling she uses different media to explore the same concepts.
NASIM FARSANI is an interdisciplinary design researcher based in Vancouver. She holds a master’s degree in interdisciplinary design from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and a BA in Industrial Design from the University of Tehran. She is an expert with strengths to apply human-centered principles, critical reasoning, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills in creating social change. Currently her focus is on leveraging the power of art and design in recombining and reframing the existing resources to create new functionalities and values for social innovation.
With gratitude as guests, Access is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Access additionally recognizes its location in Vancouver’s Chinatown, an area for the gathering of predominantly Cantonese-speaking Chinese labourers, settlers, and businesses since the nineteenth century. Our gallery borders the site of Hogan’s Alley, an important home to Vancouver’s Black population until their forced displacement through the construction of the Georgia viaduct fifty years ago.