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Monisha_1st

At the Australian South Asian Centre, we’re overwhelmed to see so many of you submit your artwork for The Australian Indian Digital Creative Festival’s ‘Expressing Resilience through Art’ competition- we received a total of 362 submissions from across India and Australia. The quality of submissions was high so choosing just three winners was a difficult task. Thank all of you who put forward your paintings, poetry, photographs, videos and more.  

We were thrilled to have a panel of three phenomenal women as our guest judges for the Australian Indian Digital Creative Festival’s ‘Expressing Resilience through Art’ Competition.

The competition was launched in an effort to showcase emerging talent from India and Australia and provide them with a platform where their work could be recognised, appreciated, and supported. The  winning entries moved each one of our judges with the immense talent and strength that they were able to put across through their inspirational work.

First Prize – Monisha Kumar (She/Her)

Describing her artistic style as figurative, earthy, and evocative, Monisha says that she didn’t see a lot of people that she could relate to in media or art growing up and that had a huge impact on the way she saw herself, her value, and agency. She sees art as a way to reclaim her identity and culture and aspires to use her art to inspire others. She expressed her disappointment about the media’s idealization and romanticization of the image of the lone artist, a perception she did not believe she fit into. Talking about being resilient in the midst of a global pandemic, she opened up about COVID adding layers of stress and isolation to her mental health, which took a toll on her productivity as an artist.


Theme

Monisha’s self portrait concentrates on the theme of isolation, coming of age, and a struggle with resilience. Her work becomes a mirror into the vulnerabilities and turmoil of the inner child. The subject holds the viewer’s gaze, though partially obstructed by their hand, the light continues to stream from behind them; symbolic of the relentless resilience that results from living the human experience. This work continues to resonate through to the intensities of this year surrounding quarantines and separation from family and friends. This social reality adds layers to this work’s exploration of cultural identity, xenophobia, and fear of ‘otherness,’ themes that have been increasingly apparent to the past year.  
 
 The work also embodies the initial experience of fear and isolation, the trepidation one may feel as they attempt to grow up, go out and try to make their mark on the world. This year has led to an array of experiences that has left an imprint on our economy and life as we know it. As much of her generation will agree, coming of age at a time like this has never been more daunting.




Second Prize – Tilottama Chowdhury (She/Her)

Inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s poetry and literature that underpinned the rising feminism wave in the Victorian age, Tilottama has been writing poems since two years. The three words she used to describe her poetry were lyrical, rhetorical and eloquent. Speaking about her favourite work,  a poem she recently wrote called ‘A Biblical Change’  points out various incidents in the Bible and questions the misogynistic views in those stories. It further questions if women’s status today would have been different if they had been given a different role in the biblical texts.  

Through her writing, she aims to move people deeply, encourage them to find themselves in it, and feel supported.  COVID gave her ample time to write, and she was able to finish her first novel, ‘In the Folds of Time’. The novel is to be published in the upcoming months.  

Tread Softly 

The fury of the tempest,  

Could not weather down,  

Your gentle soul.  

That treads softly,  

Even through,  

The raging storms.  

You bear scars,  

Each a celebration,  

A flame of hope.  

They are the testimony,  

To your persistence.  

Your light filters,  

It’s way through the dark.  

And though it hurts,  

To walk on broken glass,  

Your feet never falter.  

You may wince,  

And halt for a while,  

You still keep going,  

One step at a time.  

Alight on a cloud,  

Of self acceptance,  

And total certainty.  

Tilottama Chowdhury 

Theme

This poem talks about how we take one step at a time even when it hurts us and even during storms we don’t let our feet falter. We don’t let our scars affect our goal and that’s what makes us resilient. 

Third prize – Mithali Shetty (She/Her)

Calling herself a lockdown artist, Mithali says that the freedom she gained during lockdown inspired her to pursue her love for art. Describing her artistic style as spiritual, bold & feminine, she is inspired by the feminist artworks of Mona Biswarupa.  Talking about showing resilience in the pandemic, she used the opportunity to push her creative limits and express her feelings through painting. Her creative work brought out her inner spirit of being wild, sensuous, fearless, bold and free.

Meraki by Mitz


Mithali’s art helped her reconnect with her fearless and bold inner spirit during these uncertain times, where she witnessed anxiety and uncertainty. Her painting empowered her and helped her embrace the chaos and insecurities she felt during the lockdown.

Special Mentions

Deepshikha

Using art as a medium for communication for all her inexplicable emotions, Deepshika aims to capture moments of her life to start conversation around topics that are close to her heart. Her work is inspired by the notions of sisterhood as having women around her from an early age her perspective of the world has been a constant manifestation of their stories. In her own words ‘The hardships faced by women and the way they overcome them to make their fate and not merely accept it makes me recollect the words of the famous feminist author Adrienne Rich – “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors”. In such unprecedented times, the wellbeing of my mental health revolves around the emotional catharsis that solidarity between women, the stories of their pain and the desire to carry on despite adversity brings. In my life what makes me resilient is the companionship of my favorite women.

“She remembered who she was and that changed the game “
                 -Lalah Delia 

Neha

Neha’s painting is an ode to the modern woman that battles sexism every step of the way but continues to resist patriarchy and follow her dreams. Quoting life as her biggest inspiration and art as her preferred method of meditation, she uses emotive storytelling through her paintings to describe her experiences and motivate the women around her to wear their invisible crown and take society’s judgments in their stride.

Anit Kushwaha

Inspired by the work of Jatin Das and his ability to capture the ordeals of migrants during COVID, Anit hopes to inspire others to extend a helping hand to those struggling during the pandemic without basic amenities such as a roof on their head. There are 117 billionaires in India right now yet millions of people have no choice but to live in slums. Some of which are forced to build their homes in 4 ft diameter sewerage pipes. None of us can imagine what it would be like to live in such a dire situation.

Alisha Saiyed

Growing up in a creative family, Alisha has been inspired by the power of art (and artists) to be honest and bold and to not only make meaningful work but create meaning through her work. As a life-long immigrant, various parts of Alisha’s work have been about the immigrant experience, identity, and living life in between belonging, countries, and certainty a feeling she hopes that others can resonate and connect.

Natasha (She/Her, They/Them)

Using a combination of abstract art with poetry to translate her feelings associated with the suffering of women, Natasha says that her piece of artwork is a representation of the thoughts that keep chiming every time she feels that she is closer to giving up. For instance, the strokes- circular, angular, breaking at places, changing in direction at times, signify the act of ‘navigation’ a woman (more so a woman of color, coming from different abilities and disabilities, with all her privileges or the lack thereof, in the form of her caste, class, religion, language, education and other kinds of social locations) has to ‘perform’ in order to exist.  

I am dressing up my artwork.
I’m putting varnish on.
I’m preparing to protect it.
Much like I prepare myself.
 
I prepare myself to negotiate,
In order to face the wrath of the world
A world that’s hostile to women
More so to women with disabilities
Women with disabilities
Women of Colour
Women at the margins of a raging pandemic
 
I resist.
I resist the rage. I remain where I am.
I’m leaning but I’m standing.
I’m resilient.
 
I’m resilient
Because when have I not had to navigate challenges?
Blockages, waves, tall waves,
That have compelled me to change my path
To manage. To adjust. To figure. To negotiate.
To live a life never full, never full
Always a fragment.
 
I tell myself that this time is no different
Just bigger, faster, rushing and urgent.
I’ll learn on the way as I have so far.
 
Because when have I not had to navigate challenges?
Blockages, waves..
Waves, smaller, shorter, less angry
But still
waves..

A big thank you to our community and media partners for amplifying the voices of these emerging artists.

Community Partners: The Indian Feminist, Young Sikh Professionals Network, Asian Woman Festival, SPARK Deakin, and Bold Punjab.

Media Partners: South Asian Today, Internash and The Lipstick Politico.

Written by: Dishi Gahlowt

Comments (1)

Excellent dear. Absolutely worth an in-depth viewing. Keep it up. All the best.

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