Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Anja Sagan is a filmmaker, artist, co-author of an international bestselling book, actor and poet with lived experience of mental illness.
Drawing on thei... r studies in Shamanism, archetypal mythology and sacred love, Anja combines them with the powerful, mythic elements of Nature in their work. Anja views their journey through mental illness as a kind-of portal of self-realization and the opening of their gifts. When we ‘break’, there is a humility and depth of understanding that comes from piecing one’s self back together, as well as a tremendous appreciation for life and every experience.
Anja wants the viewer to explore the beauty and meaning in our lives as spiritual beings, the mythological pulse that is the heartbeat of our existence.
Anja invites us to experience the beauty and magnificence of nature, the human form as well as our place in the cosmos. Anja adamantly believes we are so much more than the labels we have had imposed onto us (based on things like gender, race, religion, socioeconomic background etc.) Anja asserts that while those things may describe aspects of us, as infinite universal consciousness living in human form - our potential is not defined by our bodies but instead, by That which animates it.
Anja’s work is created using multiple media including acrylic, pastel, printed mylar, encaustic, gold leaf and occasionally, found objects from nature.
Anja is inspired by artists such as Susan Seddon-Boulet, Joyce Wieland, Michaelangelo Buonarroti, and Gustav Klimt as well as filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, and Guillermo Del Toro.
Anja holds a diploma from OCADU in graphic design and an Honours BA in Fine Art from the University of Guelph. Since graduating they studied sculpture at Central Technical School and for over a year with prominent Toronto sculptor, Adrienne Alison (d. 2019) and with another Toronto-based painter, Grethe Jensen. When not writing, painting or creating films, Anja can be found traveling, wilderness camping, hiking, cycling or being human furniture for her beloved animal companions.
This piece is called “The Road To Recovery”. It is an echo of what I experienced while I was living with the most acute symptoms of my multiple diagnoses. Everything around me felt grey and lifeless. Only my son and my mother seemed real, only they held any meaning and depth to me. I felt like who I once knew myself to be was gone and all that was left was a buzzing hornet’s nest of stinging, negative thoughts. I felt very isolated, alone and grossly inadequate as a parent.
It was a catharsis to create this piece. It helped me release some of the guilt I felt at not being all a parent ‘should’ be. My mother and I went for countless walks in shopping malls back then and she helped me give my son’s life some semblance of normalcy.
It has been a long journey from there. Though at the time I wouldn’t have believed it possible, at length, I actually found my life’s passion. With my son’s and mother’s love, my Shamanic training and my involvement with Workman Arts – I have grown tremendously as a parent and a human being over the past fifteen years.
The photos were taken on my old cell phone from that time period.