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Shahla was born in Iran, where her journey in an active artistic lifestyle was first formed. It was in her youth when Shahla first began sketching, and her passion for the arts has since then become her life’s commitment. Witnessing her father create wonderful and marvelous paintings sparked the catalyst for Shahla to embark on the fine arts herself. “Behazin”, the pen name of Shahla’s father Mahmoud, was a renowned author and translator of literature and established himself to be a great influence on her work for years to come.
Shahla studied art at the University of Tehran, and her academic endeavors would later take her as far as London, England and Paris, France. Back in Iran, she became moved by the unmitigated poor living conditions that affected lower classes in that society, such as starvation, disease, poverty and homelessness. Her expressive oil paintings captured the deep pain on the faces of her subjects then. It was in this increasingly unjust society, that Shahla first created politically conscious art.
While Shahla was pursuing doctoral studies and attending art history classes at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 occurred. The necessity of this colossal event asked for Shahla and his husband’s presence and support. Hence the newly wed couple joined their country’s predicament; her studies in Europe became abrupt with a return to her motherland. The outcome of this revolution was the new regime, and thus a new life was eventually created in Germany, in 1985. From 1986 to 1994, Shahla had successfully exhibited her work in Germany, and also co-founded Art Direct Gallery in Cologne. She led an active career in which she contributed to community organizations, and participated in several solo and group exhibitions in Cologne and nearby.
In 1994, the Jamal family moved yet again, this time to the U.S. where Shahla continued her artistic accomplishments: she co-founded Rumi Art Society, an Iranian cultural organization in Austin; collaborated as a vocalist with the Rumi Ensemble; was involved in the programming of Persian Culture & Music on “Peyke-Ashti” via KOOP Radio; received a four year grant from the “City Cultural Contracts” in Austin; was a member of the Austin Visual Artists Association, and Austin Pastel Association from 1996-2003. Shahla and her family finally moved to Canada in 2003, where she resides today. The entire family having to restart a new life once again, has become active in various venues in the Toronto cultural scene. Among other accomplishments, Shahla has not only participated, but also acted as curator in several exhibitions.
Active in artistic communities wherever she resides, Shahla has become a multi-faceted individual that speaks Farsi, German, and both of Canada’s official languages. Her continuous accomplishments regardless of the various readjustments from country to country are proof of her life-long commitment towards the fine arts.
She has since held several interviews, and been featured by TV and radio stations and newspapers in Iran, Paris, Germany, Minneapolis, Austin and Toronto. Shahla Etemadzadeh has been an elected member of the Ontario Society of Artists since 2007.
She has since exhibited in more than seventy solo, joint and group exhibitions and her paintings are in private collections in Germany, France, England, Sweden, Iran, Russia, U.S.A. and Canada. Shahla’s early artistic influences along with her extensive migrations for the last 30 years have had an evident impact that leads her
to explore new realms, and experiment in various media.