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June 15, 2015

Meet a Community Art Star: Bahar Habibi

"Meet a Community Art Star" is a regular feature showcasing ArtStarts' amazing group of volunteers who are passionate, enthusiastic arts champions. Read more posts in this series.

Bahar Habibi is a visual artist, but she often feels her identity goes in different directions depending on the different roles she plays in her jobs. Bahar is full of creative spice and has many skills that allow her to wear many hats — as an artist, she's a photographer, an explorer of mediums, an art teacher; and when she works at Paper-Ya, she's a designer. Her passions in life are swimming in open waters, reading novels and people watching. We are thankful for all that Bahar contributes as we come upon her one-year anniversary volunteering at ArtStarts. She has contributed to many successes in the ArtStarts Gallery, from tours to helping strike and install exhibitions, and has worked behind the scenes in the our offices and at our annual ArtStarts Showcase and Conference. We sat down with Bahar to find out where her creativity comes from and what it means to her.

Where did art start for you?

One of my earliest memories is running through a field, holding my parents' film camera, trying to capture a herd of sheep that was in front of me. I think that it was my first time seeing such a scene and somehow I wanted to keep hold of that scene — that feeling. It's funny thinking about that now, because I see the same kind of yearning running through my life now, and my work. Later, in my teens, art making became more intentional when I acquired a little point-and-shoot camera and woke up every morning to photograph the sky from our balcony, which later led to all kinds of experiments and adventures. My first glance into community art practice though was when a local artist named Sharon Kallis gave a lecture at my high school. That mode of working was so inspiring to me, and so different from what I had come to know as "art".

What do you do in your everyday life to connect yourself to creativity?

I go on a lot of walks. For me, aimless walking is a way to process my thoughts and also to stumble upon new things and ideas. Making walking a habit also helps me on days that I don't feel particularly inspired or motivated. It kind of resets things. 

What are you working on these days?

For the past few months I have been playing around with more three-dimensional materials like clay and fabric. I love the tangibility and focus that clay demands from you. With my short attention span these days, I appreciate the state that working with clay puts me in, which is one of present-ness and meditation. These days I am also gearing for an upcoming photography program in the summer.

Do you have a piece of art that you've made that you're most proud of and what is it?

I can think of single images I have made that were exhilarating to discover at the time of developing or printing — moments that I was proud to have captured. For example, in my ongoing series on Iran, there is this shot of my grandmother on the phone in her apartment. I don't remember how I took up the camera in that moment but I'm glad I did. There are many moments like that.

What is your idea of creativity?

I think of creativity as a plant that needs to be watered and fed and maybe quietly conversed with (as my mother does with her house plants). So much of the cultivation of creativity is about being open and gentle and honest with oneself, which is a hard thing to do. But once accessed, it allows us to break the barriers between future, past, present, the material world and the dream world. I think creativity plays such an important role in our place in the world and our being human.

Explore Bahar's photography online at

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