Saving Face

oil on canvas, 70in. x 40in., 2019.

    I have always admired a fabric's ability to provide strength, even when strength is lacking in its wearer. Imagine the power that entails—to be at once vulnerable and untouchable. Saving Face is a visualization of this ambivalent relationship. Thinking about themes of self-confidence, self-awareness (to the point of inhibition), and fabric as an animated source of life, the self-portrait becomes a regal display of figure and fabric working together to create a separation between artist and viewer. To be inviting, yet unreachable. Saving Face speaks to the artist’s struggles with controlling the self-image as she invites you to see through her walls of fabric.

A Rock of Ambiguous Character

oil on found rocks, 10.43in. x 17.52in. x 16.34in., 2019.

    As someone hyper-sensitive to their surroundings, material objects—like people—have always been splendorous opportunities for visual observation. I have found fabric to be of particular interest because of its animated qualities—its physicality in texture, but also movement, and the strong psychological feelings it may hold, ranging from confinement to intimacy. With the mindset that material is best understood through contrast, rock was chosen to enhance the soft, delicate, and weightless characteristics of lace. Together, they would also create a dialogue between the natural and the man-made. Considering rock and lace as animated bodies, A Rock of Ambiguous Character began as an investigation of how the illusion of fabric could be played with to create something that wasn’t completely fabric, or the object it was painted on.
    Although every artwork begins with intentions, process hardly ever allows ideas to exist without change. What was intended to be an exploration of material became a rediscovery of ancient practices of painting. The moment the painting process began, it was evident the material had its own ideas concerning what it wanted to be. From there, A Rock of Ambiguous Character became a collaboration piece between my intent and the rock’s character.


acrylic and pastel on canvas, 12in. x 36in., 2020.

    Sofia is a portrait painting of one of my three sisters. It is an exploration of the alla prima technique and the way in which methods of painting can alter the style of a painted fabric. The alla prima technique allows for a subtle, yet vivid palette of warmth and earth, which, when complimented by figure becomes distinctly South Asain. 



یہ کچھ الفاظ ہیں جو میری دادی نے مجھے دیئے تھے
words passed down to me from my grandmother
میرے ساتھی انتہائی حساس لوگوں کے لئے کچھ الفاظ
words for fellow highly-sensitive people
اس دنیا میں تین طرح کے لوگ ہیں
there are three types of people in this world
اور جس طرح سے وہ مشکلات کا سامنا کرتے ہیں اس میں مختلف ہوتا ہے
and the way they take on hardships varies.
یہ دنیا پتھروں ، کنکروں اور مٹی پر مشتمل ہے
this world consists of rocks, pebbles, and soil.
شدید بارش کے بعد پتھر بدستور بدستور باقی ہیں
after a heavy rain the rocks remain unchanged;
ان کا بڑا سائز اور سخت بیرونی انہیں نقصان نہیں پہنچا رہا ہے
their large size and hard exterior keeps them unharmed.
کنکر زمین پر اچھالتے ہیں
the pebbles bounce against the ground,
اور بارش صاف ہونے کے بعد
and once the rain has cleared,
وہ بھی بارش سے صحت یاب ہیں
they too recover from the downpour.
لیکن مٹی؟
but the soil?
مٹی اس بارش کو اس وقت جذب کر لے گی جب تک کہ وہ کیچڑ میں تبدیل نہ ہوجائے
the soil will absorb that rain till it has turned to mud.
تم وہی مٹی ہو میری جان
you are that very soil, my life.
لیکن زیادہ فکر نہ کریں
but do not worry too much,
کیونکہ مٹی اور بارش خوبصورت چیزیں تخلیق کرتے ہیں
because soil and rain create beautiful things.
اس درد کو جو آپ محسوس کرتے ہو اسے لے لو اور ایسی خوبصورتی لائیں جو اس دنیا نے پہلے کبھی نہیں دیکھا
take this pain you feel and bring a beauty this world has never seen before.

about soil.

    soil was recited to me in urdu by my grandmother, nasra mateen, and has since been titled and translated by me. these words are a gift i want to pass onto others who struggle with their sensitive traits. our society tends to label highly sensitive people as over-emotional and weak, but there's a certain strength in owning the fact that you feel things deeply. we—as sensitive people—are inherently nurturers; and i think this world could use some nurturing.

- dania sabri

Dania Sabri is an emerging artist from Milton, Ontario, in the process of completing the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College’s joint Art & Art History Program. Fixated on the ambivalent nature of materials and the people that use them, Sabri’s work follows an intuitive process of eliciting the profound within subtleties. As someone who relies on observation and self-reflection, her interests lie in the way meaning is extrapolated from subconscious, sensorial experiences. Inducing subtle understandings through sensorial cues is her way of speaking to the subconscious. Sabri began her practice through painting, drawing, and writing. She has since expanded to sculpture, video, and design.