2022 Space Award Recipients

Arif Bahaduri was born in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 1992. He is an artist who started learning art in 2007 in a private art class in Kabul. Through his process, he learned different skills and worked with different materials, and now uses them to give meaning to his artworks. In 2013, he was among the top 10 in Kabul for the Afghan contemporary art prize, which helped him become familiar with contemporary art. His artworks are in mixed media, painting, and performance art. He has had solo and group exhibitions in and outside of Afghanistan and completed an artist residency.


Elsa Hashem is a visual artist whose main focus is Photography and Calligraphy-Painting. She works as an artwork/mural-documentation photographer in Toronto and a freelance Calligrapher. In addition, she teaches visual arts to kids; and ESL & Canadian culture to adults. Her artistic practice mainly involves conceptual art, portraying concepts like Migration, Being a Woman, Immigration, and Quarantine. Through her images and calligraphy-painting art, she tells stories of people, believing that stories can tell us about the realities in life that are too complicated. She is a recipient of Toronto Arts Foundation's Newcomer Arts Award and RBC Mentorship Award. As a professional photographer, she combines deep theoretical/technical knowledge with experience documenting artworks, creating portfolios and photo books for the artists, designing brochures, and promoting products and artworks via social networks and various advertising materials. Elsa stands out in photographing events, including arts and cultural ones, meetings and gatherings, and outdoor festivals and events.


Gizem Candan graduated with first-class honours with two BFAs, one in Plastic Arts and Painting and one in Graphic Design, from Yeditepe University in Istanbul in 2019. In September 2022, she will start an MFA program in Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University. Gizem's works have been exhibited in Canada and Turkey in private collections, including the Special Collections of the Toronto Reference Library. Currently represented by Sivarulrasa Gallery at Almonte, ON, her work explores psychological states using multidisciplinary oil painting, video, photography and readymade techniques. In addition to appreciating traditional painting's aesthetics, Gizem also adapts it to modern tastes. Throughout her work, she explores the anxieties people experience today, their impact on the environment and themselves, and the challenges of being in a modern world and taking part in it. Her subjects range from self-portraits, portraits of people she has met and puppets she has created to objects in her environment. Both graceful and unsettling, her characters exude stoicism and supple energy. Much of her work is introspective, juxtaposing objects and people to explore states of tension and suspense.


Leila-Refahi works with painting, installation, and digital media to create participatory art experiences. Her work mainly focuses on environmental issues, climate change and endangered animals. Leila received her Master's degree in Art Education from Concordia University in 2021 and has a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Painting from the Art and Architecture University in Tehran, Iran. In her research and educational projects, she inquires about socially engaged art and its impact on raising and transforming environmental knowledge in communities. Leila has presented six solo exhibitions and participated in more than 60 national and international group exhibitions and festivals. She also ran participatory projects, in which she engaged audiences in the artwork process by asking them to create and precede the artwork, cooperating, and finally becoming artists of the work. The interactions between participants, the artist, and the artwork are the most significant part of her practice.


Naghmeh Ghasemzadeh, aka NAG, is a multi-disciplinary Iranian-French artist. She studied Visual Arts and New Media at the Université de Paris 8, France and obtained a MA from the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada.

In her work, she examines her own stories of immigration, cultural assimilation, uprootedness, women’s rights, gender equality and resilience. NAG expresses such subjects through fragmented materials and narratives. She questions frantic consumption, accumulation and the sense of purpose by giving new life to outdated and broken things. Organic drawings and materials, medical or industrial waste are combined in mixed media and installations, creating strange living organisms. They are assembled to find imaginary links between events, beings, belongings and destinies. The use of materials that usually don't fit together reflects her quest to find a place and community to which she'll finally belong.

Video and sound installations also contribute to her narratives, showcasing physical and psychological resilience through juxtaposition, animation, loops, superposition and visual effects.


Yannis Lobaina is an award-winning Cuban artist, writer, emerging filmmaker and photographer based in Toronto. Yannis explores themes of immigration, diaspora, and motherhood through various narrative tools. Lobaina currently focuses on minimalist photographic storytelling. Her fascination with patterns in nature has immersed her in a photographic collection where she explores the pareidolias, patterns and spirals found in her environment. Her passion is capturing fleeting moments. Everything becomes part of the composition she weaves with her stories and photographs. Her photography series Alive, Upside Down is an interpretation of how mother nature shows us the power of resilience every day—visualizing beauty and finding balance on earth as a human being. Above the chaos is part of her mission as a mother and an immigrant.