Sam Sakr: Around the world and to the County pursuing his passion
Prince Edward County
By Kodie Trahan-Guay
Prince Edward County based artist Sam Sakr has been creating for as long as he can remember by himself and collaboratively. A graduate from Ontario College of Art & Design University, majoring in Experimental Art and Queen’s University Faculty of Education, Sakr believes his artistic style developed organically but that the schools helped foster a sense of creativity.
“I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. In my childhood I made marionettes out of cardboard, rockets that nearly set the house on fire as well as a cardboard television with a series of watercolour “stories” in collaboration with my childhood friend,” says Sakr. “I didn’t really take conscious steps to develop an artistic style. It just developed organically. In terms of education, just being with my peers inspired me to keep going. I feel I really followed my own path within the schools. The schools provided the creative environment and different materials. I did the rest.”
Sakr has lived all over the world. Growing up in Cairo, Egypt and then living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands for a few years before moving to Canada, he feels that living globally has had a big impact on his work.
“My last show at the Parrott Gallery was the Housing Project which is a combination of my journey from Cairo, then a couple of years in Amsterdam before coming to Canada where I have always lived in urban settings until moving to the County. You can clearly see the conglomerate of the chaos of the city juxtaposed on the calm of the rural setting in these fictionalised scenes.”
Having spent his childhood in Egypt, the iconography of Egyptian art has featured in his work, but having spent so much time in so many cultures has left Sakr expressing his feelings of non-belonging through his art.
“In previous figurative work I used Egyptian eyes, drawing on ancient imagery. However, I feel that now I have a foot in several cultures but belong to none,” says Sakr. “You can see this in my images of fish out of water. If I were to describe my work I would say it is expressionistic, naive outsider art.”
A lifelong city dweller, Sakr wanted to pursue the quiet that comes from country living. Luckily Prince Edward County has a robust art scene including the Rednersville Road Studio Tour which Sakr now participates in.
“It was my dream to move to the country. After I retired from teaching high school in Toronto, I was able to realize that dream when I found a home in PEC and a community of artists participating in the Studio Tour.”
The County has been a source of inspiration for Sakr. A mixed media artist he uses whatever materials happen to be on hand. Sometimes that includes materials provided by Mother Nature herself.
“When we first moved here, a windstorm blew down lots of trees so I made a series of sculptures from branches. Unlike the city, here in the County it’s not easy to get rid of old furniture. I turned some old room chairs into a series of towering sculptures by adding branches. Subsequently, a lot of those sculptures blew down in windy Wellington.”
Sakr doesn’t consider himself a professional artist; he believes it’s a passion and a way of being, although one that brings many challenges – but he thinks if you love art you need to support that creativity.
“During my last few years as a high school art teacher I used to warn students who contemplated art careers of the trials and the hard life they could expect. By the same token, I would encourage them to follow their passion. They could not go wrong with that.”
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