Artist-in-Residence 2021 - Aquil Virani

Award-winning visual artist, graphic designer and filmmaker Aquil Virani was selected for the Museum’s first virtual residency. Inspired by the Museum’s "Contributions" playing in the Canadian Immigration Hall, Aquil invited participants across Canada to digitally submit stories of the immigrant heroes in their lives. He weaved their heartfelt tributes into three different projects: an animated film integrating text, images, and voices of participant stories; a series of six painted portraits presented amid a backdrop of story submissions; and an anthology book of "100 immigrant stories" that includes an introduction written by the artist, an interview conducted by the Museum, and the word-for-word stories of everyday participants from across the country.

High tech software used by artist to create images.
Image resembling a wrinkled piece of paper, with half a globe on it.
Image resembling a wrinkled piece of paper, with a collage of people and ships.
Artist's hand doing brush strokes on a painting of a woman.
Finished painting of a woman's face using several shades of violet.
Book opened to a page with images on the right and text on the left.
Collage of hundreds of black and white photos.
Image resembling a wrinkled piece of paper with a train on it.
Image of a woman superimposed on a wall with frames.
Framed works of colourful art on a gallery wall.

Watch the Video:

Carrie-Anne Smith describes the film as a "poignant and joyful love letter to immigrants." For artist Aquil Virani, the style of his film is "something like an animated collage of voices, text and photographs that celebrate our immigrant heroes." The creative work integrates the real details of stories from various communities as told by them. The use of voice is crucial for Virani. "Part of my work as an artist is not to "give a voice" to participants, but rather to amplify these voices that already exist. Hearing the real voices of participants enriches the work and ensures that we are hearing directly from them about their story." All of the text and photographs included in the animation were submitted to Virani as part of an open call for everyday immigrant heroes as part of Virani's artist residency at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Learn more about Virani's work at

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