India 2018

Folks in Mumbai! I’m visiting in July and currently setting up dates for sexual violence focused, trauma-informed art therapy workshops for:
– survivors of sexual violence (across the gender spectrum)
– artists that may or may not be survivors but are interested in learning about art therapy
– therapists/social workers that are curious about incorporating the arts in their therapeutic practice.

I also want to provide time to anyone in our queer communities struggling with finding a trauma-informed sexual violence focused therapist. If you have friends that would benefit from my work, please connect them to me.

Currently teaching a segment at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai,the lovely Khula Aasmaan, an MIT Media Lab Maker Space in Powai and seeing folks and families impacted by sexual violence who contacted me earlier this year in Mumbai. I have a few dates open, so if you/your organization/your community need therapy work in the arts, gender and mental health spaces, I’m open to setting up dates until this Monday.

Thank you and much love.

Video Responses

In response to the #metoo movement and some questions I keep getting online, I have decided to start a video series addressing questions around sexual violence in the Indian context. The videos are for survivors of sexual violence and their friends/families- however the content will vary according to who it is specifically for.

 

Everyday Rape Culture

IMG_20170510_112812_359
White White, Gulp, Choke, 2017, 20 x 20 inches, Mixed media on Silk and Canvas

This post was written in response to the #metoo campaign

SIX Things I do to combat Rape Culture in my everyday life:

1. Stop minimizing violence in everyday interactions. Physical, emotional, mental. I have had ex partners “push” and “shove” me in times of intense conflict, and I had to struggle against my own social conditioning to not minimize it as “Oh, it’s okay. He is hurting. I must have triggered him, so it happens”. NO.

2. Hold people (friends, relatives, partners, society) to higher standards. Test your friendships. Narrate your story of sexual violence to your existing friendships and see how you are received.
If you are further minimized, and your friend unintentionally reinforces social myths, explain and let the person know compassionately that they are contributing to Rape Culture. They are hurting you. If they freak out on you, breathe deeply and unfriend/stop engaging. The person needs to get the message that something has gone wrong.
STOP TRYING TO BE BFFs WITH YOUR ABUSERS, especially when there’s little to no repair. You are not obliged to forgive, forget or let go.

3. Be okay with people seeing you as “too much” or “judgy”. Nurture yourself with the knowing that your standards are being looked up to by some young one somewhere who doesn’t yet have the confidence/privilege/awareness to do the same.

4. See that Rape Culture shows up in small ways everyday. How you look at a body on the street to how you shame yourself for walking alone, the fear you feel on the street when it’s dark, what porn you consume everyday. Control and reflect upon what you can. Explain to those who want to understand the connections between everyday life and rape culture, leave those who don’t.

5. Call out your friends at every little sexist joke they make. If it’s not funny, don’t laugh. Don’t minimize. See point number 3.

6. Do some kind of advocacy work to counter sexual violence. Go to a gathering or read up on Rape Culture. You’ll feel less alone and more urgent. Our houses have been on fire for decades and we’ve been sleeping.

#metoo #rapeculture #smallnotsosmall #littlenotsolittle #arttherapy#dontshutup #accountability #society

Deepening Community

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house,
I would like to see you living in better conditions”

-Khwaja Shams Al-Din Muhammad

I have been working at a wonderful art library this winter, here in Chicago. As I sort through my regular duties like filing books and organizing information, it has happened a few times, that a burning question on my mind has been answered by a book, that has chanced upon me.

It’ll so happen that I’m thinking about the recent molestation incident in Bangalore, and I’ll be shelving books in one corner of the library- and suddenly, I’ll feel a need to look at the title of a particular, seemingly random book- it’ll shine out to me.

This happened today with this lovely, hazel-orange book called ‘Deepening Community’- Finding Joy in Chaotic Times.

http://www.deepeningcommunity.org/

The author has outlined some wonderful ways of categorizing communities- shallow, fear based, or deep.

In shallow community, one believes- “Take care of yourself- no one else will”

In fear-based community, one believes- “We’ have a greater right to happiness and life, than “they” do. We are stronger when they are weaker.

In deep community, we believe- mutual acts of caring build a sense of belonging. We know and act when neighbors and family are sick. Mutual acts of caring occur often.

I’d love to hear from you- where do these three types of communities show up in your life?

How would you like to be cared for?

Here is a link to the pdf version of the summary of the book: http://tamarackcci.ca/files/deepening_community_finding_joy_together.pdf

 

Light the lamp and there’s radiance

As I think about Art Therapy, Feminism, the new political year in the US and the political turmoil in India…my thoughts lead to this Kabir song I’m sharing:

Light the lamp,
and there’s radiance,
Such a small bundle,
It will bite dust one day,

It will mingle with the mud,
in the temple,

Light the lamp,
and there’s radiance

Who will awaken in the light of this utter turmoil we are facing today? Do I have what it takes to awaken? 

 

 

From the Ajab Shahar Project:

“Guru shatters the pitch darkness, the lamp destroys the utter blackness, says Kabir, urging us to light the lamp in our temple. ‘Jagariya’ – literally ‘one who awakens’ – is the last name of Asariya bhai, and many of the other singers in this mandali. So it’s not surprising that their families have been in the tradition of singing Kabir and other mystic poets for several generations. Kabir is a widely loved nirgun poet of the 15th century, well known for his rude and rough rhetoric, designed to shake us out of our unconscious ways. The song casts a powerful spell as it weaves together the other voices that ‘awaken’ – Devji Asariya Jagariya and Devji Ghabha Jagariya – who are from nearby villages. As the song says, light the lamp and there’s radiance!

Asariya Khima Jagariya has imbibed the tradition of ‘aradhiya bhajan’ from a very young age from his father Khima Bapa and his grandfather. He belongs to Kharoda village in Lakhpat, Kutch in western Gujarat, can be contacted at +91-81411-73115”

Tasting

What stories do you feed your lovers?
The rice has been boiling,
for over a week now,

I’m waiting

You taste of an old memory,
a bowl of greens beside me
you tell me
a secret,

But the rice has been boiling
over a week now,

I’m waiting.

The starch has started
to stain my lips,
the water is turning dry,
What stories do you feed your lovers?

I’m waiting.

This Thing I Feel, This Hungry Thing

Oil Pastel on Acrylic on Canvas

So I’ve been a part of a group that facilitates art workshops in prisons around the state of Michigan, as part of the PCAP project.

As an experience, of course, it has been incredibly enriching but more than that, it has been emotionally exhausting. By meeting inmates at such a close level, I not only found myself questioning the things I had taken for granted for myself, but also, found myself trying to imagine myself in their situation often.

How would I feel to be treated as almost inhuman? As an animal, all caged up and expecting to be corrected? We forget the reasons of crime and as a society enforce a punitive justice system that forces us to look at justice as revenge.

I painted, in response.  A poem by an inmate published in Judith Tannenbaum’s book of prison poetry and her experience titled ‘Disguised as a Poem’ , really appealed me to me and I decided to express that visually.

The poem by an inmate named ‘Elmo’, goes:

“How can I give this thing

a  name?

This thing inside of me

This thing I feel

It is a hungry thing

and my greatest fear

is that it wants to

consume me.

How do I fight this thing?

This crafty thing

which moves in and out of me

like a tide

moves through me

with the force of radiation

deadly but unseen

How shall I fight thins thing?

And how much of it shall remain

when the battle

is finally over?”

Ganesha is the destroyer of fear, of evil, we believe. Ganesha, the elephant God that frames the picture with butterfly wings behind him. Darkness suppresses, threatening to overtake in the sides.

I was deeply inspired by Judith Tannenbaum, the author of ‘A Place to Stand’. Highly recommend reading about her.

Memory Frames

To hug, to hold, to kiss

then breathe

She needs to be alone

inside that thought

is a melting pot

of connections

she could never make

Another time,

on another page

she will be lost

in time

in a memory

and a longing

to capture

what she can’t

find

Blue skies, sad skies, my skies


Taken with a Lomography Action Sampler

I looked outside

and saw my friends

blue eyed frosted cynics

inviting me in.

As they laughed and shook

their foreign heads

I asked,

Is the moment

more important

or the person?

Glass doors

they seemed opaque

but strangely

filtered some light in,

tiny streams

of yellow murky brown,

through the snow

of people

who belonged here.

More lomography? Find some here!

I look at you and see me

I look at you, I see me

You: That is the tenth time this hour you’ve scratched a sentence out.

You’re pushing the nib in too deep. The paper is going to tear. Can’t you see the ink

flowing out of the words? What are you searching for? Who are you seeking?

Me:  You’re behaving like you don’t know.

You’re looking down at me trying to capture you, aren’t you? To name you, to make you tangible in some sense? I have tried other things to get to you. You know that. Maybe the nib was too sharp to come out of. Something softer, more subtle would work to get a hold of you, I thought. Maybe you’d decide to drip onto my white canvas through the fine hair of a paintbrush dipped in water. No, that would be too slow. You’re too fast for me. A camera could work better then, I imagined. I used a film roll- looked at your imprints in a dark room to understand who you really are. But you’re too clever for me, I think. Or I’m ignoring something about you. How do you affect me in so many ways?

Why does so much of who I am have to do with who you are?

You: Started with your riddles again, haven’t you?

You like confusion. You complain about it but you find comfort in your loops, your circles of the same thoughts, the same ideas you’ve been battling with ever since you understood you wanted to apply yourself in art.

Don’t you?

Me:   And you find comfort in your questions. Perhaps questions could be your answer. I should try defining you through questions.

You: Why not? Solve a riddle with another riddle!

This is a part of another narrative I am writing- a dialogue between selves. Any ideas for extension?
Anything at this point would help!