According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, “approximately 3.2 million million South Asians live in the United States, their community having grown 81% from 2000 to 2010. Studies using community-based samples of South Asian immigrant women have reported past-year Intimate Partner Violence prevalence up to 40%. However, evidence on protective factors for abuse among South Asian immigrant women in the United States has been minimal.”- Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6023771/. This data shows the need for resources within these communities.
Using visual art as a communication tool, I would like to bring awareness to the prevalence of domestic violence, with a focus on immigrant and refugee communities. Based on knowledge from research, oral traditions, data and interviews, I am creating an awareness campaign through art installations called Beside Between Beyond. I was born in India and remember the first few years of emigrating to the US. Geographically isolated, learning about a new environment with no financial income was very daunting. I was fortunate to have a supportive spouse to help navigate these difficult times. This got me to think about vulnerable people who are put into these circumstances with an abusive partner. The vulnerability of these individuals was compounded during COVID. I wanted to research support systems in place to assist these individuals. In 2020, I started the process of collecting and collating data about domestic violence which will then be transformed through intricate paper cuts, found object installations and interactive technology into visual art.
The cutting and removing of the paper is a very violent act. Piercing, tearing and removing are all destructive. But through this act of destruction, I have discovered the transformative idea of creation. I will use visa and refugee applications as base material to create the papercuts to highlight immigrant survivors. The colors, materials and cuts will be chosen with the intention of representing the domestic violence community.
In 2021, I read the statement of an individual going through domestic violence. She mentioned that she was not able to talk to her community for fear of becoming an object of gossip. This statement made me think about how to use awareness and art as a catalyst to bring about societal change. I began collecting donated bangles, a cultural symbol of womanhood and fertility in South Asian culture. Through this process, I engaged with community members through dialogue about creating a safe space for all of us. A space where domestic violence victims and survivors can tell their stories without the fear of judgment.
The exhibit will bring together an immersive, multi part installation that is organized by visual complexity and relationship of individual elements to each other. This is done with the motive of creating an immersive environment for the viewer to enter and explore.