I am thrilled to share that my painting Poonam Aunty from the Upping the Aunty series has won first place in the Quest Art 2018 TD Thor Wealth Management Art Prize! It was an honour to be selected for this work in particular. Read more about the prize. The work will be up as part of a two-month prize exhibition at Quest Art in Midland, Ontario, Canada.
Please join me for a solo exhibition of my new series of paintings: BEGUM from November 23 - November 29, 2017 at The Freedom Factory in Toronto.
BEGUM by Meera Sethi
November 23 - November 29, 2017
*ONE WEEK ONLY*
at The Freedom Factory
22 Dovercourt Road (just South of Queen St. West), Toronto, Canada
Gallery hours: 12 noon - 6pm daily or by appointment
The venue is partially accessible. Please see details on the Facebook event page.
OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, November 23, 6 - 9 pm
Music by DJ Zehra. Performances by Hasheel.
BEGUM (Hindi for "queen") is a new series of paintings celebrating queer masculinities through an exploration of mixed media embellishments on canvas.
Ramvati Aunty from Upping the Aunty, my recent series of painting, has been acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum as a part of their permanent collection. This is a remarkable occasion for me as it is the first time my work is part of a public collection in Canada.
For ROM Senior Curator, Dr. Deepali Dewan, Ramvati Aunty engages in visual dialogue with other aspects of the ROM collection, especially original embellished Ravi Varma lithographs from the early 20th century, and may be displayed alongside them at a future time. These very lithographs inspired the Upping The Aunty series, making this an interesting pairing.
On November 16, 2016 I was invited to participate in a public conversation at New York University entitled “Fashion Diaspora” with artist Ayqa Khan, academic and author of Fashioning Diaspora: Beauty, Feminity, and South Asia American Culture (Temple UP, 2016) Vanita Reddy, academic Sharon Heijin Lee, academic and author of The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion (Duke UP, 2011)Thuy Linh Tu, and myself. It was an engaging post-Trump evening of sharing artwork, research and ideas on the ways in which we can look to fashion as a way of understanding diaspora. We had a full house and a lively discussion. You can watch a recording of the entire evenings proceedings and see photos from the event. A very special thank you to The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU for the opportunity to share my work in New York.
Diwali 2016 brought many gifts including the opportunity to create a Diwali poster for McDonald’s restaurants in the US. Working closely with Leo Burnett USA, I created an original artwork for the McDonald’s Diwali 2016 campaign. The poster made a month-long appearance at each and every McDonald’s across the United States. It was a wonderful experience expanding my skills to include commercial illustration. Check out the poster below.
Gold, silver, nickel and coins of various other metals have been a regular feature of Diwali for me. Even the humble penny. As a child celebrating Diwali I remember following a ritual laid out by my father that I little understood: washing all the coins in the prayer plate, annointing them with milk and red sandoor. It was an offering to Laxmi, the Goddess of prosperity.
I continue this today, however this year I have had the privilege of designing a 1oz. gold coin for the Royal Canadian Mint. Inspired by Rangoli designs, this Limited Edition coin is available online from the Royal Canadian Mint where you can also read about the symbolism. Click on the hand to reveal the numismatic coin!
Opening night for my current solo exhibition "Upping the Aunty" at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park, Toronto was spectacular. We had such a fabulous range of people come through over the 4 hours. People saw, coloured, ate, drank (there may even have been a few dance moves), connected. Daniels Spectrum and the wonderful people who work there from the curator elle alconcel to the Executive Director Seema Jethalal is an inspired place existing in the precious in-between space of a gallery and a community hub. It is an honour to show my work there. Photo credit: Yannick Anton (@yannickanton)
While continuing work on my Upping the Aunty series of large-scale paintings, I decided to take a few weeks off to create the Upping the Aunty colouring book for adults and children alike. The book features 30 drawings all ready to be coloured in. It's a feminist project that simultaneously challenges how we see our aunties and how we see fashion. Some of the drawings are humorous, some subversive and others just plain fun.
The book was launched at The 6IX Goddess, NorBlack NorWhite's pop-up in Toronto this past September. The first print run has sold out, however a second run in ready for purchase in the shop for the holiday season. The Upping the Aunty Colouring Book is only $20 and ships internationally from Toronto. Get yours!
For me, #Unstitched is an intimate reminder. Wrapping us closely, the sari holds the stories of our bodies. What do we carry, hide, fold into ourselves? And what happens when it is WE who are unstitched, not held together, when we fall apart? Can we hold these stories the way a sari drapes, forgiving and lovingly holding each and every body the way a sari is unconditional in its holding.
#Unstitched The Sari Project has its own journey, one that will unfold in its own way. Some participants will engage with the sari as a material object, a garment, a craft. For some, the sari will be an entry point, into personal memory, sweetness, celebration, challenges, growth. For some, the sari suggests the politics of colonialism, migration, racism, resistance.
#Unstitched opens a conversation about the sari beyond its role as something to just wear, placing it in the folds of shared experience. The project offers new ways of thinking about the sari, of what we wear, how we wear it and why we wear it.
#Unstitched is a project that crosses many boundaries: nation, culture, class, caste, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, age, language, race, family. And more. In this crossing, the project neither erases these boundaries, nor is determined by them. It seeks to explore a different kind of belonging, and relationship, one that exists in spite of these barriers to create what Jaquie Alexander calls ‘genealogies of critical consciousness’, through which we become visible to one another and resist the invisibility of our lives. It is an invitation of connection, transformation, healing.
A special thank you to two very good friends - Vivek Shraya and Gurbir Singh Jolly - for documenting the evening through the photographs below. Also a very special thank you to Narendra Pachkhédé for his guest talk at the launch. And a big hug to my partner Karishma Kripalani, my sister Meha Sethi, my parents Bali and Rupa Sethi and wonderful friends Rachna Contractor and Andil Gosine who moderated the evening talks.
Come celebrate the Launch of #Unstitched / The Sari Project
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Artscape Youngplace, Rm 107, 180 Shaw St, Toronto
1 sari. 108 people.
We invite you to the launch of #Unstitched: an international, collaborative, performance art project and the co-launchof Unstitched Thoughts – a series of conversations on the idea of Sari during the project’s two-year journey around the world.
For the opening keynote, join writer, philosopher and theorist, Narendra Pachkhédé for a lively discussion of the sari as an object of inquiry. How can we examine the sari as a cultural artifact? How can we value the act of wearing a sari as an event? How can we engage with the cultural significance of the sari, the politics of sari-wearing, and explore its story as that of a great survival.
7:15pm Project Introduction: Meera Sethi
7:30pm Opening Keynote: Saree as an object of inquiry by Narendra Pachkhédé, Commonwealth Fellow
8.15pm Q&A: Artist Meera Sethi and Narendra Pachkhédé
Join us to send off #Unstitched in style!