Women's History Month Exhibition
As part of our ongoing commitment to reflect the USF community by making diversity and inclusion priorities in all that we do, the Centre Gallery is excited to introduce our new partnership with the Office of Multicultural Affairs that celebrates and brings awareness to artists and art focused around commemorative observances such as Black Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Women’s History Month. In working side-by-side with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Centre Gallery strives to make this initiative extend beyond a single month or exhibition and allow for USF students to feel confident in sharing and displaying their art any time of the year.
MEET YOUR ARTIST
Isha Harshe (she/her/hers) has been formally studying art for six years and has competed in Florida State Fair Art competitions. She mainly focuses on the use of acrylic mediums and includes three-dimensional applications to her projects. Isha is currently majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology and Psychology with a minor in Public Health. She hopes to integrate her art skills with a future medical career.
The motivation behind these works stems from personal experiences, being the child of immigrants. For some, immigration is a forced experience, whereas, for others, it is an opportunistic one. "I am Still Here" shows how refugees are displaced people, seeking a new home for reasons out of their control. One of the many burdens of being of an immigrant background is finding a balance between cultures. They are often told to keep quiet and assimilate. "Silent Woman" demonstrates this perspective: her clothing and accessories are brought to the foreground while her eyes and lips are concealed. Yet, there is a longing to partake in cultural traditions and connect with that identity. This is explored in "Sister of Navratri," where a young woman is dressed in traditional costume to dance during the special festival of Navratri. The vibrancy of the colors and details in the costume were chosen to celebrate the importance and impact of cultural identity. Although these two perspectives of silence and celebration sometimes conflict, the last painting of the exhibition, "Isha’s Diner," seeks to find a balance between the two. While the first-glance appearance of the painting is that of an American diner, attention to detail will show that some of the menu items showcase traditional Indian dishes. Overall, this showcase seeks to highlight the different stages of the immigrant experience through various modes.
The main medium used for this showcase was acrylic on canvas. Acrylic paint allows for the vibrancy of color. Some paintings include three-dimensional applications that helped highlight certain details. In "I am Still Here," real fabric and hair extensions were used. In "Sister of Navratri," the bangles are cut from real bangles. A traditional Indian dress has a lot of detailing and accessories, and this painting highlights such details with sequins and ribbons.
What is the inspiration for this current exhibition?
The inspiration stems from personal experiences as the child of an immigrant. There is often a struggle to find a balance between multiple cultural identities, and these works hope to showcase the various experiences immigrants face. Harshe tries to include a personal aspect to all of her artworks, so each of the artworks represents an aspect of her personal identity, from the color choice to the overall theme.
What is your process?
The first step is imagining the product. Harshe is a planner and likes to have a clear view of what she would like to create. However, there are often adjustments from the initial sketch and onwards. Harshe likes to experiment with her existing paint palette to create colors. She also likes to use three-dimensional applications and often tries to use materials she finds from around her. Other works have used chocolate wrappers to create collages. There is often much revision in the process, so Harshe prefers to use acrylic paint - each coating can easily cover the previous one.
What are your goals after this year?
Harshe aims to continue producing art in acrylic mediums. She also intends to try other forms of painting such as watercolor and pencil shading to diversify her art skills. Harshe believes that one should always continue to learn and challenge themselves, and that is why she would like to study these arts as well. Harshe also would like to continue to share her art with others and be more active on her social media account for her art.
Women’s History Month Discussion Questions
Please share why you decided to submit your work for Women's History Month.
My art reflects who I am, and being a woman is a large part of my personal identity. As a result, many of my paintings are portraits of women in different moods. The paintings I chose for my showcase revolve around immigrants' experiences, and I wanted to highlight the female immigrant experience as the daughter of immigrants. I have seen in many cases women immigrating to the United States because of their husband's jobs. In such situations, immigration and the following struggles are not always a choice for them. I want to highlight their plights and their courage for taking on the challenge of adjusting to a culture entirely different than their own.
Please share about a woman that has positively influenced your life. This can be someone
you know personally or a public figure.
My mother has been the biggest influence on my life. She is the reason I have cultural pride. She chose to be a homemaker so that she could raise her daughters to become professionals. Her selflessness and sacrifices drive me to the best woman I can be, a woman that will always make her proud. I have learned everything about my culture, which is a large part of my identity, from my mother, and for that, I will always be indebted to her.
How can you use your artist platform to inform and educate others of the rich history
of women, their challenges and successes, and the contributions they have made to
communities and American life?
The struggles women have faced transcend cultural barriers. I believe the language of art is universal, and that is why I often turn to art as a platform of self-expression. I hope to listen and learn to the stories of women and capture them in an artistic medium so that they may be appreciated and preserved for all to see. Women have contributed so much to society, and I want to be a part of the movement to bring their contributions to light.
I am Still Here
Mixed Media - acrylic on canvas, collage, and fabric applications
Acrylic on Canvas
Acrylic on Canvas
Sister of Navratri
Mixed Media - Acrylic on Canvas with Fabric/Sequin Applications