Dema Maksod is displaying her paintings on the fifth floor of the VIU library throughout the summer. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Syrian refugee artist Dema Maksod showing work at VIU library this summer

This is Maksod’s first Canadian exhibition since arriving in Nanaimo in November

When Syrian refugee Dema Maksod arrived in Nanaimo in late November, one of the first orders of business was to find a space to create.

Maksod is painter who has shown her work around the Middle East and has pieces now in European collections. In 2014 her home in Damascus was destroyed by bombs and two years later she relocated to Lebanon. She continued her art and had some success but conditions were hard on refugees of all occupations.

Vancouver Island University art and design chair Gregory Ball said soon after Maksod’s arrival in Nanaimo he was contacted by her sponsorship group asking if there was a place on campus where she could continue her practice.

“I just liked her right away. She’s such a resilient, joyful person,” he said, adding that as a painter he “immediately connected” with her work. He describes it as contemporary, while alluding to early 20th century artists like Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani.

“I saw some of her earlier work actually on her phone. She showed it to me when we first met and I was really blown away by how skillful and how powerful her paintings are and continue to be,” he said.

The layered acrylic paintings were made using branches for brushes, creating a worn, timeless look. Ball said, “They are beautiful, but there definitely is an edginess to them.”

In January the arrangements were made to allow Maksod, now in the school’s ESL program, to use a drop-in room behind the ceramics studio that students and faculty call “the graveyard.” Ball said she seemed eager to start painting again.

“I have to say that the moment the insurance was done and the contract for her to come in was signed she started working almost immediately and she’s been really prolific there and produced quite a few paintings,” he said.

This summer those paintings will on display on the fifth floor of the VIU library. An opening reception was held on May 15. Many of the people who made Maksod’s show possible were in attendance and she thanked them all.

“It is a pleasure and honour to see my work exhibited here today. I am especially grateful to see the community of Nanaimo and the University of Vancouver Island come together in welcoming me and my art…” Maksod said.

“I believe in art for art. Art has value in and for itself. I also believe in art for humanity. Art is part of what makes us human and reminds us of our humanity. But now I also believe in humanity for art. We have come together as fellow human beings to support the creation of art.”

WHAT’S ON … Paintings by Dema Maksod will be on display on the fifth floor of the VIU library throughout the summer.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 20

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Downtown Nanaimo hotel project moving forward

PEG Development submitted an updated permit application for a proposed hotel at 100 Gordon St.

VIDEO: International Day of Peace activities planned in Nanaimo

Unity Spiritual Education Centre of Nanaimo planning public walk, labyrinth dedication Sept. 21-22

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

Last cruise ship of the season stops in Harbour City

Explorer of the Seas port call is the fifth visit to Nanaimo by a cruise ship this year

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Candidate lists finalized for Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN, school district

Nomination deadline passes in advance of Oct. 20 local government elections

Porsche and Subaru dealerships can proceed with planning in north Nanaimo

City council unanimously allows rezoning application process to move forward

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Dozens line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read