'Lucid Dreams And Distant Visions': A Diverse Representation Of The South Asian Community

'Lucid Dreams And Distant Visions': A Diverse Representation Of The South Asian Community

South Asian heritage takes the spotlight.
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It’s strange to see myself reflected in the darkness of the charcoal portrait. Chitra Ganesh’s "Devika Rani (2012)," depicts a woman far too regal to encounter me. The subject features an elaborate headpiece, a bindi above her brows, and eyes that are hauntingly beautiful. Dressed in jeans and having just taken a final, my reflection mars her work. It is, however, an incredible feeling to find art I see myself represented in; there aren't many museums where I can find a portrait of a woman adorned with a bindi.

The Asia Society Museum, from June 27th to August 6th, 2017, features "Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora." Only a four-minute walk from the 68th Street stop on the 6 train, the Asia Society Museum exclusively displays traditional and contemporary Asian art. The current exhibit includes nineteen contemporary artists from the South Asian diaspora, all of whom now live in the United States, and possess work spanning four decades. Collectively, the group depicts the South Asian experience: socially, culturally, and with regards to the tensions in the international sociopolitical climate.

Though the exhibit only occupies the second floor of a relatively small museum, it is unassumingly powerful. I was emotionally overwhelmed once finished with it; its impact is difficult to put into words.

Anila Quayyum Agha's "Crossing Boundaries," is arguably the most 'Instagrammable' feature of the exhibit, but the laser-cut steel and light bulb installation reflects the contradictory qualities inherent in the immigrant experience. The geometric patterns of the installation are meant to mimic those of traditional mosques in Pakistan. Being a woman, Agha was excluded from these while growing up in Pakistan. The space that her art creates, however, is open to people of all creed, color, and belief.

There are incredibly diverse portrayals of the South Asian community: portraits of overlooked silent-film actors, paintings of Muslims in various fields of work, critiques of appropriated South Asian culture in Western Society, and short films about Tibetan refugees. While some artists provide very direct imagery of the social and cultural makeup of their homelands, others are more layered in their depiction of cross-cultural tensions and racial boundaries.

The impact of a place on a person's work is resonant throughout the exhibit. Ruby Chishti's "The Present is a Ruin Without the People," pictured below, represents the spaces that individuals have unwillingly left in times of conflict and war. Chishti attempts to demonstrate the relationship that forms between the personal experiences that immigrants encounter, and the singular narratives that are applied to them as a group.The numerous textiles she uses, like so many of the artworks displayed, prompt questions over the endless, and varied stories hidden in them.

Overwhelmingly, the exhibit combats the xenophobia and nationalism that flood our nation. The artists widen the narrative surrounding immigrants and attempt to rid viewers of their existing stereotypes, providing detailed individual stories and trials. They reveal how little anyone, (and even I, a child of South Asian descent), knows about history; people of color have been so severely overlooked.

Coincidentally, the exhibit meets with the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence from British rule. The art displayed celebrates the genuine expression of South Asian lives, in all of their duality.

For immigrants, the children of them, and anyone of South Asian descent, this exhibit is no less than a love letter to you. It ends on August 6th, 2017. Don't miss an opportunity to see your heritage take the spotlight.
Cover Image Credit: Sudeepa Singh / The Asia Society Museum

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Homesick

The yearning for a place and people beyond the reach of my fingertips.

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For those born and raised outside the borders of the United States, have you ever found yourself going about your daily life and thinking back to your home-county? With all of your favorite and most vivid memories rushing in without much warning, sending you on a rollercoaster of emotion. The ups, the downs, the everything in-between. The life you used to live is now playing itself back in front of your very eyes, and I can't help but feel homesick.

No matter how many years are now separating me from the time I lived in my home country, I will always feel saddened knowing I no longer live there. Yes, I have lived in the United States for more than half of my life, occasionally flying back home to visit family, and yet I always feel as if a small part of me remains on the other side of the world. That small part is what makes me yearn to fly back home-and stay there-, to be reunited with all of my family, and to be surrounded by the language of my people. I miss the way the food tastes; how tap water is better than any bottled water I've had in the states. How the mountains surrounding the city always make for a beautiful view no matter where I'm standing. I miss the guitar players and dancers who light up the city streets with culture and character. Most of all, I miss how much joy I find around me, and within me, when I am back home. There is something indescribable, almost magical, in the way my soul reacts when I step foot off that plane and back into my roots. It's as if the Earth itself grabs hold of me, and brings me close into a tight embrace. As if my home missed me just as much as I missed it. Whether I've been gone for eight years, or two, the unfamiliar quickly becomes familiar, and it feels like I never left. Like I can ask for a refund on my roundtrip flight because I have no desire to fly back to the states.

I feel homesick at the most random times. I could be out with my friends or buried deep in homework, but the memories of home will always find themselves back to me. I get sad for a little while, and it sucks that I cannot snap my fingers and find myself back home in an instant. Nevertheless, I reminisce on the good times and send a prayer up into the skies so I can go back home once more.

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