Sara Berhane

Advisor

Biography

Selam.  

I’m an Eritrean-Swiss creative and have lived in Toronto since I was a teenager. 

 

Western culture did have a hand in shaping me but I will forever look at it through the lens of my body and my DNA. A lot of my work is about exploring my identity and ancestry through mediums that have been inspiring me throughout my life.

 

Among my interests is researching the contributions of Eritrean women to art, culture and revolution. I create visual and mixed media work that highlights and captures the beauty of my people. I also find the process therapeutic as it strengthens the connection between myself and my ancestry. 

 

What sparked your interest in/passion for art?

 

Born and raised in Switzerland, my imaginative world was nurtured from a young age in part by my adoptive grandparents - an art/design teacher and humanitarian worker.  Their gift of giving me space to explore texture, sound and color through pop up books, pin art, interactive objects and story records began my love for interactive art. At home with my mother I heard stories about Eritrean traditions and was constantly exposed to music, comedy, plays and music videos from back home. 

 

Having moved to Canada in my teens, I worked with Saikou Saho at the African Drums and Art Craft store in Toronto, an important community hub, for ten years. This time was invaluable as it greatly contributed to my education and knowledge of African history, art and expression. I learned everything to do with traditional masks, textile, beads, and drums. More than anything, working in Seiko's space instilled a sense of community in me. It allowed me to interact with and learn the different stories of people from Toronto’s Black community.  I realized then how art and culture are not separate in the African tradition, the same way community is not separate from art and culture. It is a cycle that is constantly renewing, reproducing and energizing. 

 

Throughout my journey to find my own voice and in turn my own traditions, I have explored dance, movement, styling and visual art - always woven together with music. Today my work is influenced by a desire to connect with my ancestors through the exploration of identity.