Photography and Curation
LEARNING EXPERIENCE WITH JAMII
Since the start of 2023, I have successfully exhibited two portrait series with Jamii, one of which was created directly through my involvement with Jamii. The first exhibit (Power in Portraits) in January was an opportunity for me to introduce myself to the community ahead of the self-portrait workshop that I hosted from Feb-May 2023. The self-portrait workshops culminated in an exposition titled Calyx that was created by community participants with my artistic guidance.
Over the summer, I also had the experience of mentoring a young Indigenous photographer, Morningstar Quill, who was working with Jamii at the same time. This experience was an important and critical interaction for me to have as a newcomer to Canada in order to engage with someone with a similar passion from a radically different community. Together, we brainstormed ideas, techniques and created a portrait series together.
This year, I also got the chance to experience being the subject of a video interview which was a first for me. Through this experience, I had the chance to rehearse my introduction as an artist, which is a necessary skill to master in order to connect to an audience. In late summer/early fall of 2023, I launched an exhibit/talk series centered on the uniqueness and importance of cloths, fabrics and prints across different cultures through displays and community-engaged talks. Recently, I completed a talk series titled ‘The Jungle Book: A Postcolonial Analysis’, which explored the ways in which Rudyard Kipling's classic novel has been read through a postcolonial lens through a series of discussions and viewings of the many adaptations of The Jungle Book.
Jamii also offered a unique opportunity to play the role of a mentor for another artist: During the summer of 2023, I had the opportunity to act as a mentor for Morningstar Quill, a young photographer from Pikangikum. Together, we discussed our techniques, subjects, and goals as photographers. During her time in Toronto, Morningstar and I worked on developing her ‘brand’ as a photographer by designing a logo for her social media profile and drafting an artistic resume. Despite a busy schedule, we managed to create a portrait series in which Morningstar had the chance to express anything she chose through my method. The results are my favourite collaboration yet as the series, featuring the two of us, is evocative of the profound connection we made with one another through our shared passion for photography and for our respective cultures. On a more personal level, I learned a lot from Morningstar about her community, her culture, and her inspiration. Having never been formally educated on the history of the Indigenous people of Canada, it was truly a learning experience for me to spend time with her and learn about the Canada that she comes from.
All of these new activities and experiences have given me the opportunity to develop my own understanding of my role as an artist. It has given me the aptitude and opportunity to network with people from different backgrounds and to gain a better understanding of their artistic journey. Most importantly, it has integrated me into the community through my art and created opportunities for connection that I never had before.
Sabrine S. Hakam is a Toronto-based artist and thinker whose style of symbolism-infused portraits foster discussions on identity, representation, and power. Sabrine holds a PhD in Geography (Arts) from King’s College London, as well as an MSc in Urbanisation and Development from the London School of Economics, an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford, and a BSc from New York University. Her work situates itself at the nexus of academia and art in order to humanize the subjects of academic work.