Safi Alia Shabaik discovered art and photography at an early age when her mother enrolled her in a pinhole camera class at the California Museum of Science and Industry. She attended UCLA, earning her B.A. in Fine Art with honors. Since then, she has worked as a fashion stylist and photographic documentarian and has lived in both New York and Los Angeles. Post-college, while still in Los Angeles, Catherine Opie became her mentor and taught her the art of large scale color printing in her custom-built darkrooms. While in New York, Safi became fashion stylist, photographic documentarian, personal assistant, travel companion, and confidante to the legendary icon, Ms. Grace Jones, in her personal and public life. Safi was given free rein to photograph anytime they were together.
Throughout her life, her work has been about identity, persona, subculture and the humanity of all people. Her subject matter moved from the public realm to the private, when she became a caregiver for her father who was beginning to exhibit symptoms of the disease. Personality Crash: Portraits of My Father Who Suffered from Advanced Stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, and Sundowner’s Syndrome, her most recent series, is a riveting, collaborative body of work that explores the human condition from an intimate perspective, focusing on her father’s journey up until his death. These intense, beautiful black and white images comprise the artist’s highly personal story but also serve as a universal reminder of what it means to be human.
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