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Isha Bhandaru


Six More Times It Shouldn't Have Happened

cloth, embroidery hoops, embroidery thread, monofilament

The piece focuses on marital violence. I chose 6 true stories where women experience domestic violence and embroidered them on rings to represent the stories and the women (almost like a tribute and a record in history). I decided to embroider to represent how women are stuck in their 'spheres' as said by Reverend John Milton Williams in 1893:

"Woman has no call to the ballot-box, but she has a sphere of her own...divinely appointed guardian of the home...she should more fully realize that her position [is] wife and mother...dismiss all ambition for anything higher, as there is nothing else here so high for mortals."

Not only are women subject to oppression throughout history, but we are also expected to “put up with” domestic violence. The red thread represents the blood and pain women have had to go through.

I had to actively search for stories of domestic violence, none were covered by the news, illustrating how we glaze over these horrendous acts and how society has a long way to go. Through this piece I would like to speak up for these women (and women in general), hopefully bringing more awareness to the subject.


That Weird, Ugly Dot

paint and bindis on paper

The piece was inspired by a memory when I was in elementary school where kids in my grade would always call my bindi weird or question what it was. One day after a girl said a very mean comment, I wiped it off and stopped wearing it to school every day and only wore it during religious occasions. I wanted to focus on my cultural identity and how strong of an influence it has in my life, there are some parts that get erased because of what others say. I also wanted to make a statement about how many use parts of other cultures as an aesthetic but ridicule other parts. I used dots throughout the entire piece to represent bindis, essentially creating a high-end artwork out of things that were called weird or ugly (that are a beautiful part of my culture). I used bindi in the hand and the smeared bindi on my face to demonstrate how culture is being wiped away.


Bhogi Pallu: The Beginning and End

Matte medium, tracing paper, linoleum block prints, rice, rose petals, monofilament

The hanging cherries in the middle of the piece as well as the rice and flower petals on the round symbolize the Bhogi Pallu ceremony and how it was a tradition for me and my brother as we grew up. It was the ceremony which began my relationship with my religion and culture and something I always took pride in. It represents my youth as a proud Indian and Hindu.

The curtain in the back filled with block prints represent a continuation of my childhood into my middle school and early high school years. The red dots represent bindi and how I used to wear it every day but slowly lost the tradition after being ridiculed. This marks the beginning of my relationship with my religion falling apart. The two black curtains refer to stories from the Jataka Tales, a book of Indian Tales which my grandparents used to tell me as a child, each having a life moral attached to them. The specific stories I reference are “The Clever Crab and Wicked Crane” and “The Crow, The Turtle, and The Deer.” In the stories, the Crane and the Turtle are both greedy the crow even betrays the crab to eat him. This represented my greed and attempts to fit in, or fit the “American mold.” After being criticized by classmates I would lose parts of my culture and even turn on it, representing how I was losing touch. The gold pattern represents traditional Indian textiles, specifically Banarasi fabric, which is used for fine Indian clothing. It represents my attachment to Indian clothing my whole life and despite losing touch many times, my effort to continue my relationship with my culture and religion.