Mohsen Meysami took out the community awards’ tertiary prize with his artwork 'Their Pain, Our Gain'.
Meysami was picked from 21 other finalists by judges Geelong Gallery director Jason Smith, artist Reko Rennie, Moonee Ponds Incinerator Gallery curator Richard Ennis, and creative producer Simon Spain.
The Tertiary Art Prize, one of five categories in the Footscray Art Prize, came with $1500 cash for the PhD (Art) student to put towards the future of his career.
Meysami said the Footscray Art Prize, known for showcasing contemporary talent in local communities, seemed like the perfect way to test Australians’ reactions to his work.
“I was desperate to know about the Australian art community and audience’s feedback,” he said.
His winning artwork, Their Pain, Our Gain, features an embroidered rug that echoes traditional Persian art and symbolises society’s indifference to suffering.
Representing the “correlation or interdependency of a group of peoples’ profits to another’s misery”, his artwork’s success has given Meysami the confidence he needed.
“It means a lot to me. It's an absolute honour and privilege to be a part of this show.”
After migrating to Perth, Australia, from Iran six years ago, Meysami has a background that has significantly shaped both his practice and identity as an artist.
Exploring his artistic potential since a young age, Meysami at age eight won his school’s calligraphy competition and began following in the footsteps of his uncle, a famous local artist in his hometown.
Since then, the artist’s work has grown to be influenced by the recent wars and conflicts affecting the Middle East.
Meysami believes that art is a powerful vehicle to connect people to politics and question society’s attitudes to war and its victims.
“We are living in a world where the influence of mainstream media coverage on the public opinions cannot be overlooked,” he said.
“This reinforces the significance of the role art can play in driving awareness through stimulating people’s imagination and connecting them to the critical topics.”
But being a recent migrant, Meysami has struggled to familiarise himself with the Australian art scene and the institutions that come with it.
“It’s something I am working on by building up a network with other artists as well as art galleries and communities,” he said.
Meysami said his studies at RMIT have helped him overcome this obstacle and make his transition across countries and states easier.
“The facilities that RMIT provides and the opportunity to work and be in contact with other artists and researchers with diverse backgrounds and experiences is a huge benefit,” he said.
“It gives artists like me the opportunity to develop their practice and helps them with their art career.”
Following the success of Their Pain, Our Gain in the Footscray Art Prize, Meysami said he wanted to continue developing his skills and knowledge to drive his art career.
“I want to make art that not only raises awareness about the sociopolitical situation of the Middle East, but also challenges our indifference to the pain and suffering of people from war-torn countries.”
Mohsen Meysami’s Their Pain, Our Gain and other shortlisted Tertiary Art Prize works are on display at Victoria University at MetroWest from 25 May to 24 June.
Story: Jennifer Park