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Arts & Culture

Artist in Residence

Bringing art into the Library.

Central Library's Artist in Residence programs are three-month, paid community engagement residencies that support individual artists, arts organizations, and collectives working in Indigenous art and place making, children's art and illustration, or the newcomer experience.

The resident is invited to work in a designated space at Central Library and engage with the public at libraries across the city. Artists are selected in partnership with arts and culture organizations.

Meet Aya Mhana

Newcomer Artist in Residence

Aya Mhana is a Syrian-born singer, songwriter and oud player. Now a proud Canadian citizen, Aya moves easily between English and Arabic, writing lyrics with a poet’s sensibilities.

Since emigrating to Calgary, Canada, in 2016 , Aya has performed at the Calgary Stampede and GlobalFest, and with the Kensington Sinfonia. She formed a band called HYMM, a seven-piece ensemble that often graces Calgary coffee houses with its Middle Eastern fusion repertoire.

Aya’s musical journey is deeply influenced by her Syrian roots. Hailing from Sweida, she taught herself to play the oud (a string instrument similar to the lute) during high school, and graduated from the University of Damascus with a degree in education. She volunteered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, working with families displaced during the Syrian war.

Inspired by her volunteer work, Aya used her music to explore the human capacity for hope during wartime, and performed her compositions in her home city. In Canada, she translates the rich culture of her homeland for audiences who often know little of Syria, but are eager to embrace her soulful melodies.

As an artist who inhabits the crossroad between nations, Aya is committed to speaking out about issues on exile and diaspora, and to celebrating the importance of home. She hopes that her music helps shape Canada’s vision for a peaceful and vibrant cultural mosaic.

Aya is the 2020 recipient of the Calgary catholic Immigration Society New Canadian Artist Award, and her residency is presented in partnership with Calgary Arts Development.


Virtual events with the Newcomer Artist in Residence

Artist Talk and Performance with Aya Mhana
Saturday, June 13
7:30 – 8:30 pm

This virtual artist talk and performance by Aya Mhana will be followed by audience questions. Enjoy her original songs, in both English and Arabic, influenced by her life in Suwayda, Syria, her volunteerism in refugee camps, motherhood, her family's immigration to Canada in 2016 and now, her experience living during Covid-19.

Register for free