Madhu Kumar: The Stories of Immigrant Women
May 6 to May 22
*Touring exhibition from the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, presented in partnership with Yorkton Arts Council.
When anyone moves to a new country there are challenges. This is especially true for women. My life is not the same in Canada as it was back home in India. I had to overcome many challenges, such as living in a very different environment and culture, being away from family and friends, and so on.
In 2001, soon after I arrived in Toronto, I met another new Canadian who was struggling to raise her nine-year old daughter by herself. I empathized with her because I knew how difficult it was to raise children even when you have the support of a partner. I offered to take care of her daughter after school until she returned at night after working long hours at her job. I felt her pain as a single mother being far from her family and friends. I wanted to do what I could to help.
This relationship inspired me. I wanted to capture the experiences of newcomer women on canvas. I started by contacting women through the Immigrant Women Centre in Regina. I went to their homes, and with my camera, recorded their joys and problems. Most of the feelings I heard were of loneliness, emptiness, and sadness.
The women I have painted are bright, and hardworking. They were going through rough times as they tried to settle into their new lives. Through my paintings, I want to show what it feels like to be alone, frustrated, sad, empty, confused, and lost amidst strangers and new friends. The paintings help promote dialogue about being new to Canada. I want to offer a glimpse into the life of an immigrant woman during this challenging time. Some show despair; others are more hopeful; while some are more settled.
Storytelling is not only the core of my work, but is also universally important. Human beings need to be seen and heard. Art is a vehicle through which I am empowering these women.