“Morphing Shadow” is a short digital animation visually depicting my immigrant journey. The central character is a woman who represents my experiences of immigrating from her homeland to a new country. The animation shows how this woman struggles with moments of homesickness. I used creative symbolism to portray this woman’s unique power to morph her shadow into a mystical box that houses her beloved family members.
The magical box becomes a connection channel, enabling her to bridge the physical distance that separates her from her family. Whenever she misses the presence of her parents and siblings, she takes them out of the box. The scenes in which the woman communicates with them inside the box are filled with warmth and emotions. There is also a snake in some scenes that symbolizes the woman’s dual feelings of happiness and depression. The animation piece implies this woman’s acceptance of her new reality while maintaining cherished memories and a strengthened connection with her family.
By creating “Morphing Shadow,” I wanted to celebrate the resilience and adaptability inherent in immigrants and integrate diverse emotions like love and hope. Shadow is the main symbol of this storytelling because it represents the fluidity of identities, cultural heritage, and backgrounds that never leave people even when they traverse borders. “Morphing Shadow” reminds its audience that people are all interconnected to their beloved ones, regardless of geographical location. I utilized animation because it mirrors the essence of movement that underlies every aspect of an immigrant’s life.

Illustration and animation: Maryam Khaleghiyazdi | Music and sound effects: Siddharth Pathak

• Award of The Professional Exploration Category, the World Illustration Awards, London, UK, 2021 
• Award of Excellence in Communication Arts (Ca) Competition, CA, USA

Presented by
• 2022, Washington Post, “In the galleries: Sculptures take us beyond the conventional.”
• Guardian, Covid kisses and marvelous menus: the AOI world illustration awards 2021 – in pictures10/12/2021

I started creating “Morphing Shadow” by compiling a comprehensive list of emotions that an immigrant may experience after leaving their home, moving to a new land, and leaving their family behind. Then, I settled on the theme of adaptability as it embodies the struggle of adjusting to a foreign environment while recalling the past identity and culture. I explored various options to symbolize this complex concept and found that shadow could be an answer. A shadow’s fluidity, stickiness, and magical essence perfectly encapsulated the emotions and experiences of adaptation and nostalgia.
Then, I sketched the storyboard and illustrated characters and scenes using digital techniques. I was particularly drawn to the idea of collage illustration, as its bold, simplistic, yet powerful approach could effectively convey the essence of my story. To add depth to my illustrations, I incorporated a variety of textures. Warm, earthy colors were carefully chosen to evoke a sense of home and familiarity. Having completed the illustrations, I brought them to life through animation. Ultimately, my artwork captures the essence of an immigrant’s emotional journey – the adaptability, the need for home, and the magical transformation that comes with embracing a new life while still carrying the memories of the past.

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