Shweta Bhattad has embarked on a unique journey to grow a community focused on issue-based activism through the medium of art, and give voice to those who do not have one. In short, she toils to bring out farmers’ cause and agricultural issues through art.
Based in her hometown Nagpur, Shweta got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sculpture from M.S.U. Baroda. Today, she sees her work as arbiters of truth, social concern, and a medium for popularizing art.
During the course of her work through the years, she has explored issues such as women’s education and safety, particularly victims of sexual abuse and suicide among students.
“This collective act by like-minded people, and community-based art practices by collaborating with concerned people from all over the world to think and act on a specific thought or concern, can be a major aspect that leads to awareness, social-cultural-economic innovation, and can be a great catalyst for change,” she said.
The founder of the project ‘I Have a Dream’, Shweta hopes to bring attention to farming practices and communities by inviting artists to collaborate with farmers. She believes in using art to empower communities through farming and gardening.
Although the project began in a few countries, it has now seen the participation of farmers, artists, and community members from 27 nations. People have created art in their fields and gardens from Japan to India, Italy to Squamish, BC, as part of important conversations about human rights, the environment, and farming practices.
In the past, she participated in a residency at Bamboo Curtain Studio Taiwan, funded by Khoj, and performed a piece called Bharat Mata in Taiwan that was inspired by her struggle to overcome her fears as a woman in her own country.
“The project Cotton Stainers is about creating a space that is run by the women in Paradsinga, Maharashtra so that it becomes a platform of expression for their stories and concerns through sustainable clothing. From the sowing of cotton to spinning it into yarn to hand-weaving into fabric – all will be done by the women,” she said.
In light of the project, she said, “Cotton Stainer (Dysdercus cingulatus) is infamous as a common farming pest attacking and leaving the cotton-boll with stains. The whole world is focussed on how to terminate it but they, like any other insect, are a vital part of our ecosystem, playing an important role in the food chain. Stain and cloth commonly don’t go with each other. Most people don’t like to wear stained clothes. But each stain is actually an anecdote that makes the cloth live and its evolving-nature builds up its character over time,” she added.
Her work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions, including ‘And the Falcon Passed Through His Neck’ at LATITUDE 28, curated by Jasmine Wahi, a New York-based curator, Art Asia Miami, Lalit Kala National Exhibition, Bombay Art Society, and others.
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