Arts + Culture

Creativity Unbound

Fort Myers artist Leila Mesdaghi embraces her interest in everything—and ponders her next move.

During the long, isolated months of quarantine earlier this year, Fort Myers artist Leila Mesdaghi looked to the sky to connect with friends and family around the world. She’d been invited by the Alliance for the Arts to create a piece of art for Pop of Color, an exhibit that is part of the Art in Flight partnership with the Lee County Port Authority and is on display at Southwest Florida International Airport through May. “I had recently had an exhibition of all paintings, so they were thinking of me as a painter,” she says. “But I explained that I wanted to make something different—I like making new work when I have the opportunity.” For the multitalented creator, who considers herself a thinker as much as an artist, it was a chance to embrace the community around her and connect with people in lonely times. “I started reaching out to people, asking them to look up at the sky, take a photo and send it to me,” she says.  Over the course of about two months, Mesdaghi contacted about 10 people a day, one by one. The Alliance started collecting photos for her project, too. Soon enough, she’d amassed hundreds of images of the sky as viewed from such diverse places as Iran, Brazil, Australia, France, Denmark and South Africa.  “In Farsi, there’s a proverb that says, ‘wherever you go, the sky is the same color.’ There was a sense of being in it together,” she says. As she sat down to work on the piece, feelings of loneliness dissipated.
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