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Maya Kachra, 16

My artwork explores my disconnection to my heritage, and through the creation process allowed me to connect to my roots and provided a deep sense of honesty and pride about my identity. I created a kalamkari, which is an ancient art form originating from India, and through the multi-step natural process, I tied the often-horrific events my family faced to the beauty of the traditional art form, as well as connected to the customs and labor that goes into this practice. The scenes filling the piece depict some of the struggles my grandparents faced and illuminates a story of resilience unknown to many. My artwork is fully natural, consisting of canvas dyed with homemade paints from coffee grounds, spinach, and a variety of Indian spices, allowing the culture which was once confined, to be vibrant, but also allowing the scenes to fade away like the memories of these events. The images I created tell my family’s story in Uganda under the dictatorship of Idi Amin, detailing the banishment of the Indian population, destruction of religious buildings, and military coos during the 1970s. Throughout my artistic process, I unraveled and brought these stories to attention, and became more connected to my own heritage and family through exploring the reality of conflict my grandparent’s and many other locals faced.

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