Farihah Aliyah Shah Awarded the 2023 CCI + WOPHA Fellowship with Support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
WOPHA / 09.25.2023
WOPHA, in partnership with the Caribbean Cultural Institute (CCI) at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), is thrilled to announce Farihah Aliyah Shah as the recipient of the inaugural 2023 CCI + WOPHA Fellowship. This program supports emerging to mid-career women and non-binary photographers of African and/or Indigenous heritage based in Miami, the Caribbean, or its diasporas, whose projects would benefit from access to WOPHA and PAMM’s institutional resources.
Selected through an open call juried by Iberia Pérez González, Andrew W. Mellon Caribbean Cultural Institute Curatorial Associate, and Aldeide Delgado, Founder & Director of WOPHA, Farihah Aliyah Shah is a lens-based artist of Guyanese descent, currently based in Ontario, Canada. Her multidisciplinary work incorporates photography, video, sound, and installation, exploring identity formation through the colonial gaze, interconnected narratives of forced migration and labor, race, land, and collective memory.
In the context of the 2023 CCI + WOPHA Fellowship, Shah will expand upon her two ongoing bodies of work. “Along the Demerara” (2017) documents the processes of grief, identity reclamation, and the examination of colonial histories. “Looking for Lucille” (2017) presents an unconventional portrait of her late grandmother, whom she never had the opportunity to meet. Through these works, Shah aims to research collective resistance, archival preservation, and the role of the matriarch engaging with archival material of Victoria Village and Guyana.
At the heart of Shah’s creative practice lies a profound challenge to colonial erasure. Her series critically questions the processes that dictate the “legitimate” forms of preservation, shedding light on the limitations placed on access to archives and the manipulation of educational narratives. Her efforts resonate deeply within the diaspora, highlighting intergenerational losses and advocating for the importance of redefining our understanding of history.
As part of her fellowship journey, she will actively engage with Miami’s thriving cultural ecosystem and participate in the international symposium, “On the Edge of Visibility,” co-presented by AWARE and WOPHA at Pérez Art Museum Miami on October 19–20, 2023. She will share her research methods and creative explorations, further enriching the discourse surrounding the preservation of cultural heritage and the imperative to challenge conventional narratives.
About Farihah Aliyah Shah
Farihah Aliyah Shah is a contemporary lens-based artist originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Treaty 6), now based in Bradford, Ontario, Canada (Treaty 18). She holds a BHRM from York University and a BFA in Photography with a minor in Integrated Media from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. Shah was the recipient of the John Hartman Award in 2019 and was long-listed for the New Generation Photography Award in 2022. She is a member of Gallery 44 – Centre for Contemporary Photography, Women Photograph, and is a co-founding member of Mast Year Collective, an artist duo exploring kinship through collective practice. Shah has exhibited internationally in Asia, Europe, and North America.
The Caribbean Cultural Institute (CCI) Fellowship program fosters art projects and research that advance cultural development and scholarship in the Caribbean and its diasporas. Through research and production-based art fellowships, the program cultivates new ideas that challenge traditional conceptions of Caribbean art, generates innovative study on the region, and reflects upon the contemporary state of Caribbean art and thought. The CCI Fellowship program is intended to support artists, cultural practitioners, and scholars from the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora whose projects would benefit from access to PAMM’s institutional resources.