Hopeful Art & Artful Hope

So energizing to be part of the Artists Round Table today and talk about Hopeful Art & Artful Hope. The convo was moderated by the wonderful Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli and I learned so much about the work of amazing artists/activists like Michaela Oteri, TL Luke, Kristy Lisle, Kierston Ghaznavi, Yvette Pino, and Della Wells. From important struggles such as disability and reproductive rights, to representations of Black women in art and culture, to body types and using art to talk about politics, I felt like I was surrounded/sustained by artists using their art to challenge and enlighten.

The Women’s & Gender Studies Conference ‘Sustaining Hope: Feminisms, Freedom, and the Future’ is happening virtually for one last day tomorrow, April 15th.

It’s organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and held under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace as part of a global UN platform. It is free.

You can register here. And don’t forget to check out the artwork under ‘Artist Exhibition 2023.’

[Artwork by Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli]

Women’s & Gender Studies Consortium

I am super excited to be a part of the Women’s & Gender Studies Consortium ‘Sustaining Hope: Feminisms, Freedom, and the Future’ happening completely virtually, April 13-15. I will participate in the Artists’ Round Table on April 14th – starts at 3:30pm CTS (4:30pm EST).

This conference, organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and held under the auspices of the UNESCO Chair on Gender, Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace as part of a global UN platform, is free.

You can register here and you can look at the conference schedule here.

You can also check out at my artist page. Hope you can join us!

a rough cut for ‘return to sender’

my short film, return to sender (about colonial postcards and orientalist representations of women from the colonies), is coming along well! i have a rough cut and have received feedback from women friends/filmmakers i’ve trusted for decades. thank u cat ashworth, surbhi dewan, nancy ghertner, kate kressmann-kehoe, and linda moroney. i also got permissions from publishing houses and insightful scholars to quote their work. most of all, i’m blown away, once again, by the sharp analysis and complete honesty of the three women who are at the center of the film. thank u Fatimah Arshad, Urvashi Bhattacharya and Sumayia Islam for ur brilliance and beauty <3

[photo: urvashi bhattacharya in ‘return to sender,’ photographed by mara ahmed]

This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Huntington Arts Council, Inc.

The Body Has Memory

This short video was part of the Huntington Arts Council’s juried exhibition about the exploration of the human body. It won best in show. It’s finally public. Pls watch.

In her book, Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine says: “Yes, and the body has memory. The physical carriage hauls more than its weight.”

Biological memory can be understood as a cellular response to a transient stimulus, a response that becomes lasting if chemical changes ensue. Body memory can be transmitted genetically via DNA and helps explain generational trauma.

This poem is about the multiformity of the human body and its many contexts. Some of the visual language in the text is inspired by a viewing of “52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone” at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, in Connecticut. Hence the reference to detached limbs and strewn body parts, but also the need to reconstitute the female body, a powerful site for resistance and healing.

This video is closed captioned. Thank you Rajesh Barnabas, Mariko Yamada, Cloria Sutton, and Rochester City School District students <3

our piece in contending modernities

we have been working on this piece off and on since the beginning of 2023. so proud of this conversation with dr shirly bahar about performativity, solidarity across activist spaces, the relationship between trauma and language, and the importance of reconceptualizing feelings of powerlessness as public and political so as to pursue change. thank u shirly for ur brilliance and vision, thank u Santiago Slabodsky for bringing our work together at hofstra university and activating this piece, thank u josh lupo and atalia omer at Contending Modernities, university of notre dame, for ur editorial support and for publishing our work. to radical politics and solidarity.

A grant for my project

I am beyond thrilled to share that I have been awarded a NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts) grant for my project “Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards and the Politics of Representation.” This project will involve a short film, an art exhibition, artist talks, and a community discussion led by three women of color. The film premiere will be at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY, on Oct 1st this year.

There are so many amazing people to thank: first of all, Patty Eljaiek at Huntington Arts Council, Inc. without whose encouragement I wouldn’t have applied for this grant and whose consistent support was invaluable; Emily Dowd, Kieran Johnson and everyone at @huntingtonarts; Stephanie Gotard at @huntingtonhistoricalsociety who is my community partner (and my biggest cheerleader); Dylan Toombs who shot the footage for the film with dazzling artistry; Boris Sapozhnikov for additional cinematography; the beautiful and talented Fatimah Arshad, Urvashi Bhattacharya, and Sumayia Islam who are the stars of the film; Rajesh Barnabas and Darien Lamen who will be helping with postproduction; Nia Adams, Madeline Churney, and Farhana Islam for agreeing to lead a post-screening discussion; Jeremy Dennis for being open to a screening at Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio; and finally, Dylan Skolnik and René Bouchard for a film premiere and discussion at Cinema Arts Centre in spite of many complications.

Also trying to get a student intern from Stony Brook’s Women’s and Gender Studies dept to curate the art exhibition — thank you to the faculty there.

I will write more about the film, but for now I want to thank all my people — everyone who has worked with me, believed in me, and inspired me. Love you all!

This project is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Huntington Arts Council, Inc.

Editing The Injured Body: Greta Niu

Greta Niu: I just don’t want to lose sight of what makes up the microaggressions. It is implicit biases around race or ethnicity or gender or gender expression or class or size or disability. Those are the pieces that we’ve been fighting and we have always been fighting against. I don’t want people to think we are done with that. Now all we have to deal with are these microaggressions. The fact is, it’s a whole continuum of behaviors that are harmful, from a little poke to physical violence.

Photograph by Rajesh Barnabas

Editing The Injured Body: Lauren Jimerson

Lauren Jimerson: On the reservation, I didn’t think about my life past 18 or 20. It was hard to imagine being an adult. When I was 12, I saw the first young person pass away. Someone I grew up with, my cousin and neighbor. He was 19 or 20 and died in a car accident. I saw all these young people passing away. I didn’t know what the future looked like. Then I had Angel and it changed the course of my life.

Photograph by Erica Jae

goodbye dear robert

as we start the new year, i can’t help but reflect on the linearity of time (a western concept imposed on many of us). i hope to continue to struggle against that programming. in urdu, for example, kal means both yesterday and tomorrow. it’s the same word. there are no borders between the past, present and future.

we lost a dear friend and comrade yesterday, on new year’s eve. my friend Robert Navan. i went to ireland three times, in 2013, 2016 and 2018. each time i met robert. he always gave me a little tour, took me out for coffee and pastries, for cuban food and beer in the most authentic pubs (even though i stuck with lemonade) and had plenty of recommendations about what to do in dublin.

most importantly, robert supported my work via the progressive film club. they screened ‘pakistan one on one’ and organized a brilliant screening/community event for ‘a thin wall’ (one of the best post-screening discussions i’ve ever had). they also put together a retrospective of my work and showed all three documentaries, including ‘the muslims i know.’

how lucky, how amazing to have audiences engage with my work, on the other side of the pond, in a country that’s special to me. i have always been proud to say i have wonderful friends in ireland, all of them opposed to war and imperialism, all of them fervent supporters of justice in palestine. robert was/is one of them. an old school socialist who had been to cuba many times. he told the best stories. they will continue to be with me. how i will miss him. rest in power my friend <3

with robert navan, dublin, 2013

Editing The Injured Body: Mercedes, Erica and Tianna

Listening to a brilliant convo between Mercedes Phelan, Erica Bryant and Tianna Manon.

-Mercedes: I was brought up to be tough – don’t show your emotions, no crying, breaking down is weakness… It’s difficult to learn to express my emotions in a positive way.

-Erica: Black women carry generational trauma, personal trauma, all these micro-aggressions. And there is no healing for it. We must reverse that stigma. Taking care of yourself emotionally and psychologically is important.

-Tianna: There are institutional issues. For a long time health professionals were not trained to deal with trauma faced by Black people. So it wasn’t always good help. Also, how many can afford it? There are some free things out there. But how do you navigate that system? This is on top of how we force each other to be tough.

Erica Bryant

my short film – best in show

with the wonderful christophe lima, juror for the new exhibition at huntington arts council which opened today. the theme of the exhibition is the exploration of the human body. i wrote a poem called ‘the body has memory’ and created a short experimental film around it. not only was it selected for the exhibition but it won ‘best in show.’ couldn’t be more excited!

thank u Rajesh Barnabas for the beautiful cinematography and Mariko Yamada for the dance choreography. stunning dance performances by Cloria Iampretty and mariko. mostly thank u all for being who u are. sharing some of rochester’s talent and heart here on long island <3