How have you broken gender stereotypes?
The most important part of what I do is feeling empowered to say what I need to say with my work. This is not always easy. As an artist who identifies as a South Asian woman, I am often expected to talk about my experience. I was encouraged to do this early in my career. But I often think about if this truly came from my own desire to share or because this is what I was expected to talk about. Now I find ways to still speak about issues that are important to me like immigrant experiences, woman’s experiences, minority experiences but in a way that feels empowering. I like to put some of the onus back onto the viewer by refusing to answer some questions, and really taking control of my own narrative.
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism to me means many things, but a huge one would be not worrying about gender or letting gender constructs hold you back in any way. I had a pretty liberal upbringing but I was a pretty shy and quiet kid. I knew I was passionate and had a lot of things on my mind, but often I was too shy to really speak up. I wasn’t exactly discouraged to speak up, but it seemed like as a girl it wasn’t necessary for me to have strong opinions.
When I was in art school I knew that all the work I made needed to be political and for a purpose. I found a way to still make work that is personal and intimate, but also relates to larger issues. I’ve found my voice both conceptually and physically through the work that I make.
What are your achievements?
I think I’m most proud of all of the different projects that I have made so far and having had opportunities to exhibit them around the world. Being an artist isn’t easy and finding time to simply create work while dealing with regular life can be very daunting. However I’m at a point in which I know the work that I make is important and needs to be seen. I’ve had a lot of support and encouragement along the way that allows me to keep believing in my work. I also have a lot of things I still want to say and do which is what keeps me motivated to keep going.
What do you hope for future female leaders?
I hope that female leaders can learn how to find their voice in whichever way feels right to them. Being outspoken doesn’t come naturally to everyone. That doesn’t mean you don’t have important things to say, you just need to find the right ways to say them. Find whatever means of expression makes you feel empowered, and use it to help get your voice heard.