Meet ISZAF: A Platform Connecting Artists With The Shenzhen Community

Cian   |   May 9, 2019

Meet ISZAF: A Platform Connecting Artists With The Shenzhen Community

Written by Maria Mogas & Brittan Aebischer

The International Shenzhen Art Forum (ISZAF) was founded by Brittan Aebischer in September 2016. After living in Shenzhen for more than five years, Brittan realized there needed to be something to connect and engage artists with the local community. Beginning with a WeChat group and a rallying call for all artists, ISZAF quickly developed into an active organization with an administration team, website, artist challenges, weekly figure and still life drawing sessions, gallery shows, an art zine, and monthly community art walk and talks.

ISZAF Administration Team at the Transient Exhibition, October 2018

The administration team is a collective of individuals who volunteer their time and resources to connect and promote the artist community. Each administrative member of the team fulfils an important role. There is Founder and Co-Chair, Brittan Aebischer, along with Gloria Carnevale, Co-Chair and founding member, who oversee general operations and community outreach. Our Artist Production Coordinator is Catarina Braga, our Chief Content Editor for our ArtSZine is Jen Nicklas, and our Community Drawing Coordinator is Kumi Legault. Michael Williams is our Community Mobilizer, and last but not least, is our Forum Lecture Coordinator, Maria Mogas. The administration team works jointly on all projects and strives to meet the needs of our community, while looking forward to seek out potential opportunities beneficial to the growth of the community as well.

Founded around the concept of an international artist society, ISZAF has quickly evolved into a platform for international arts professionals in the Shenzhen area such as fine artists, graphic designers, photographers, industrial designers, tattoo artists, and visual arts educators.

ISZAF started with a clear mission:

To connect artists and arts professionals to establish a dynamic, creative, and healthy arts community.

To converse through inter-professional and intercultural dialogue that supports the visual arts and deepens the art consciousness of the community.

To convey the artists’ work, concepts, and discourse to the community at large in hopes to better establish more economically sustainable relationships between the visual arts industry and the Chinese community.

Figure Drawing Session
Concurrence Photography Exhibition, April 2018

During its inception, ISZAF began engaging artists and their communities with weekly live drawing sessions. These sessions were offered to artists as well as anyone in the community who wanted to come and draw. Simultaneously, ISZAF established comprehensive artist challenges that were open to anyone who wanted to be challenged to make work based on a set theme. The community participation in both the live drawing sessions and the artist challenges quickly established the ISZAF community base and since then has been the driving force for all of ISZAF’s activities and sponsored events.

The Forum Lecture Series, October 2018
Copy of ArtSZine

ISZAF also supports Shenzhen’s youth in their artistic and creative development. ISZAF co-sponsored the Shenzhen Bay Music and Art Festival in 2017 and fully initiated and produced the Kuku Chai International Youth Art Exhibition in January 2018. In addition to major youth art exhibitions, ISZAF assists in linking artists to schools as visiting artists or artists in residence. Our mission as an organization is to be adaptive to the artists and the needs of our community. Thus, we hope to be relevant and engaging to the transient and urban landscape of Shenzhen.

The Kuku Chai International Youth Art Exhibition

Ultimately, ISZAF strives to be a platform for artists and arts professionals within the Greater Bay Area (GBA) of Southern China. It is our hope that as the existing art and cultural market grows, we can establish a space for our artists to emerge and sustainably share their vision and work.

For more information, visit the official website at or send an email to [email protected]