The central theme of this series is disability, trauma and the complex process of recovery. It began with work that emerged out of my own experience in the 2001 earthquake in Kutch, India, when I was buried under rubble and my arm was partially paralyzed. Since then, over the years, I have watched the slow atrophy of my left arm. Alongside this, I found myself faced with a further battle to get over the experience, psychologically as well as physically. Through this process, I realized the complex meaning of “mending.”
It took me about fifteen years to develop courage to work on this experience. Moving to Canada helped in understanding what I went through and to some extent what I go through even now, dealing with PTSD. The physical distance from where the earthquake occurred and the trauma attached to it has helped me in dealing with it. The initial series of work titled Mending Cracks: Limitations, was a set of landscapes that depicted loss at the same time as a sense of hope. These landscapes were paired along with a large installation of X-ray films with drawings created with medical gauze and a video. It was exhibited in Bangalore, India and at the University of British Columbia Asian Centre, in Vancouver, Canada in 2016 and 2017.
Mending Cracks: Reaching Beyond looks beyond my own personal experience to the experiences of others who face trauma. At the beginning of this new journey, I look at the struggles of the oppressed, the expression of protest, and the experience of pain. The series of 'portraits' I am working on portrays people from various places, from Palestine to Delhi, and from British Columbia to Mexico. These paintings/drawings are done with careful detail in a miniature-like style, with figures accompanied as much by absences as by presences.
Each image is inspired by incidents of descent to violence and oppression in different parts of the world. Confrontations in Gaza, the Trans Mountain pipeline, Standing Rock, Idle No More, and others. I am in the process of looking at these kinds of incidents from all around the world to understand their struggles and what trauma the communities connected to these struggles go through. I intend to work on large canvasses in the future incorporating classical European painting style in portraying the images.
My research hitherto on trauma and art production has shown that often, works on trauma and healing are assumed to target a specific audience or special group, rather than a broad public. It is my goal with this work to reach out to a broad audience and to communicate the experiences of trauma and healing.