Indian American artist and activist Sujata Tibrewala explains why she is dedicating a new painting to Indian farmers and launching a fundraiser to help them.
By Sujata Tibrewala
As the global pandemic forces us all to stay in and stay close to our loved ones, it also serves as just the right time to hold on to smaller moments and insignificant details. And sometimes, it is during those mundane moments that your calm may be broken by the realities of the world.
So, on the day of Super Bowl as American families across the country converged in their living rooms, with scrumptious fare and championship football on TV, I too sat down with my loved ones, to count life’s little blessings.
As I stared at the TV set, I was struck by an unexpected, even welcome surprise. Just out of nowhere, a 30-second advertisement expressing solidarity with India’s protesting farmers popped up on television sets across California. For a few seconds, the dedicated American tradition of showing some of the most creative spots featuring colas and beers on what is considered the commercial gold time was interrupted by a group of Indian farmers, demanding their rights.
As Punjabi music faded in the background, perhaps a first in Super Bowl commercial history, I couldn’t help but think — how the world has become a cohesive place. How the needs of a motley group of hard working farmers, halfway across the globe are felt and experienced by humans who may have nothing in common with the lives they are showing solidarity with.
It makes total sense why Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, and NBA and NFL stars such as Kyle Kuzma and Juju Smith Shuster would want to talk about human rights and farmers in India.
It was a moment of serendipity as I looked across the room to my home studio, where a lot of my paintings around the theme of rural India and farmers stared at me. Despite being thousands of miles away from India, the country of my origin, the memories of the hearth and home stayed fresh.
And that day, inspired by a newer zeal to be a part of this movement, I felt so strongly about, I embarked on a new artistic journey. I began creating, Annapurna, an acrylic on canvas as an ode to Indian farmers.
As news on TV in my California home blared about the systemic indifference the farmers continued to face, my creative spirit unleashed in the form of strokes of perseverance splashed on an acrylic on canvas as an ode to Indian farmers.
Titled Annapurna, I decided that my painting was apt to create a fundraiser along with humanitarian organization — Khalsa Aid. My fundraiser aims to help the farmers. As a Thank You note, I will be giving away prints of my painting to those who donate.
Here is the poem, I wrote that illustrates and explains my painting:
I am capable of extracting food from the womb of mother earth
Months and years of toil, sweat and blood
To feed you while I and my own go hungry
Because I love the land I toil on
So if you threaten to snatch it
With your big purses
I will wait patiently
Your water cannons are but rains
I miss so much on my parched earth
Your barbed wire and bullets
Are not worse than the rope of debt
Always hanging on my neck
I will not wait for you to give me food
Did you forget I am the one who feeds you ?
So I will grow my own food
On the sides of the path
I sit on while I wait
Until you take your purses away
And leave me alone
To feed “you” and “my family”
I’d really appreciate it if you would share or donate to this by visiting the GoFundMe initiative “Support Indian Farmers: Annapurna”
Any donation will help make an impact. Once we receive the donation we will contact you with the art print you like or you could contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the art you are interested in so we can ship you the art print/art of your choice.
(Jaipur-born Indian American Sujata Tibrewala is an ecofeminist, artist and engineer, based in San Jose, California. She is also a community development manager at Intel. She has exhibited her art at various venues in India and US)