When Thornhill artist Paria Shahverdi starts her work each morning, her decades in war-torn Iran come to mind.
Born and raised in Iran's capital, Tehran, Shahverdi experienced the lengthy Iran–Iraq War first-hand before moving to Canada in 2004. Her new solo exhibition, War, features a collection of haunting works inspired by her wartime experiences.
"It comes from the deepest layer of my heart, because I spent all my life in war situations," she told CBC's Metro Morning. "The war is not just when two countries are fighting each other. War is my childhood with anxiety. War is my teenage [years] with the Islamic Revolution."
During the war, Shahverdi worked at a local newspaper, but eventually stopped to raise her children. She began to explore writing and drawing, inspired by the memory of her father, a poet and playwright, and later graduated from the Fine Arts Program at the Azad University of Tehran.
After immigrating to Canada, Shahverdi continued her education through Seneca College's animation program and the Toronto School of Art.
Her latest exhibition is mixed-media, a sombre collection of paintings featuring shadowy figures and muted colours and collages using Farsi newspaper. Like much of her work, it explores some common themes.
"All my life was anxiety, revolution, war — and then immigration," Shahverdi told CBC Toronto in a follow-up interview.
She hopes her latest collection of work, currently on display at Gallery 1313 in Parkdale, affects people.
"I saw lots of people very inspired," she said.
'War' runs through Sunday at Gallery 1313 at 1313 Queen Street West.