By J. Suresh
TORONTO | 8 October 2023 (IDN) — CARE USA has selected eight visionary artists representing countries across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to advance gender equality through creative expression.
As the CARE USA’s Arts for Gender Equality fellows, they will seek to harness the power of art to catalyze and inspire social change by supporting a cohort of artists who will each connect their new work with grassroots, international arts, and justice groups for collective reflections, exploration, and action.
As part of this initiative to support the work of the art community and its efforts to galvanize social change, CARE is working with The Rockefeller Foundation. “We hope that through this project and the group of visionaries, we can leverage the power of the arts to inspire and drive forward meaningful action towards gender justice and equality,” said Michelle Nunn, President and CEO of CARE USA.
CARE will bring the group together virtually in the fall of 2023 to discuss critical themes that connect their work within the movement for gender equality.
The fellows, chosen from a pool of over 70 candidates through a rigorous global nomination and application process, will have two options. The first track focuses on production, providing a production stipend as well as a four-week artist residency at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. Alternatively, the second track offers a production stipend and a grant to organize local events aimed at promoting gender equality by mobilizing activists and their communities.
Art possesses a special power to impact opinions and attitudes, says Ms. Sarah Geisenheimer, Vice President of Innovation at The Rockefeller Foundation.
Soe Yu Nwe, Myanmar – Visual Artist (Ceramics and Drawing)
“The power of connecting artists and those who work at the intersection of arts and social movements across different geographies is the possibility of inspiring and motivating each other by nurturing a wonderful synergy, friendship, and collaboration.” shares Nwe. “As an artist, I often work in solitude in a studio setting. The conversation and support that arises from realization of mutual struggles can help alleviate a sense of isolation and self-doubt.”
Nwe’s experience of living cross-culturally has inspired her to reflect upon her own identity through making and conceiving art as a fluid, fragile, and fragmented entity. Through transfiguration of her emotional landscape by poetically depicting nature and body in parts, she ponders the complexities of individual identity in this rapidly changing globalized society.
Emilia Yang, Nicaragua/U.S. – Interdisciplinary Artist
“I look forward to creating spaces, fostering collaborations, and working with socially engaged artists and activists from all over the world,” says Yang. “I hope to share experiences, practices, and tools that strengthen our creative and organizing processes. I believe that weaving support networks of women has the power to transform our societies.”
Yang’s art practice utilizes expanded forms of digital media (XR, transmedia, web, film, archives, performance, games, and public interventions) for the creation of community-based feminist, anti-racist, and transformative justice projects. Her research explores the role of memory, violence, emotions, performance, and participation in the political imagination.
Etinosa Yvonne, Nigeria – Photographer
“I find it so helpful connecting to other artists and sharing thoughts that I had in my mind for a long time…I am very much interested in using this fellowship to figure me and my relationship to my practice out,” shares Etinosa.
Etinosa is a self-taught documentary photographer and visual artist. She works with various art forms including photos and videos. The primary focus of her work is the exploration of themes related to culture, religion, tradition, the environment, the human condition and social injustice.
Sabika Abbas Naqvi, India – Poet
“The purpose of my poetry is to act as archives, to tell the stories that everyone refuses to tell.…To not just talk about our plight but also the dreams and hopes that we carry in our ribcages, the stories of resilience and love and methods of friendships and solidarities,” explains Naqvi.
Naqvi is a poet, student of history, gender rights activist, and alternative educator, inspired by feminist and queer politics – the subject of many of her poems. She is the founder of Sar-e-Rahguzar, a movement to bring poetry to the streets. She performs protest poetry in public spaces to shake people out of their comfort zones and force them to pause whatever urgent journey they’re on and listen.
Jasmeen Patheja, India – Interdisciplinary Artist
“It is extremely powerful to connect artists at the intersection of social movements and geographies because this practice is still rare, often unscripted, and artists are finding their own path or ways of doing this work,” says Patheja. “There is no ‘model.’ Coming together will allow us to know our shared landscape while understanding the local contexts of resistance and art practice.”
Patheja is an artist in public service who builds ideas for public and collective action. She designs and facilitates methodologies committed to ending violence against women, girls, and all persons. She is the founder and facilitator of Blank Noise, a growing community taking agency to end sexual and gender-based violence.
Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón, Puerto Rico – Writer
“My work as a writer, communicator, and artivist of afrofeminism and racial justice is mainly nourished by creating a community and movement that…make Afro-Latinx communities and people visible,” explains Lebrón.
Lebrón is an Afropuertorican writer, communication strategist, and professor. She is the founder of Revista étnica, a print magazine dedicated to celebrating the beauty and social issues of the Afro-Latinx communities in Puerto Rico. She has also published the collection of poems entitled Hebras, as well as various works in the Academia magazine of EDP University, Boreales, Letras Magazine of the UMET, and Afroféminas, among other outlets.
Sungi Mlengeya, Tanzania – Painter
“One of the first serious paintings I made was of my mother. Since the beginning, I’ve been intrigued and drawn to paintings of women. Over time, I began to act and reconnect my work with themes of gender equality,” shares Mlengeya. “I’m passionate about creating and hope to see a community that is more gender equal – both of which will always drive me to influence my community for the better.”
Mlengeya is a self-taught artist. She works primarily in the acrylic medium on canvas, creating paintings that are free, minimalist, and with a curious use of negative space. Most of her works consists of dark figures in minimal shades of black and browns against perfectly white backgrounds, a commemoration of the women who surround her.
Dayna Ash, Lebanon – Performance Artist/ Playwright
“I believe my work will inspire other women to continue to share experiences and stories that otherwise fall into the cracks of time,” says Ash. “I hope that the work will impact people’s mental health and capacity to embrace our sense of belonging. The work aims to assist women and queers with identities that contradict each other to create alternative and new forms of space and a new understanding of belonging ‘to.’”
Ash is a cultural and social activist and writer. She is the founder and Executive Director of Haven for Artists, an unapologetic feminist cultural organization based in Beirut, Lebanon working at the intersection of art and activism. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo (first row l-r) Gloriann Sacha Antonetty (Writer, Puerto Rico); Soe Yu New (Visual Artist, Ceramics & Drawing) Myanmar; Sungi Mlengeya (Painter, Tanzania); Emilia Yang (Interdisciplinary artist, Nicaragua / United States); — (second row l-r) Sabika Abbas (Poet, India); Etinosa Yvonne (Photographer, Nigeria); Jasmeen Patheja (Interdisciplinary Artist, India); Dayna Ash (Performance artist and playwright, Lebanon). Credit: CARE.
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