Art's power to heal systemic harm
"Art allows us to break free from any rules that our societies expect us to abide by. Art is forgiving. Art is a language that you don’t need words to understand. Art provides the space for us to exist non-linearly. Art honors the process. Art uplifts individuality while building collective narrative and solidarity. Art believes that everyone is an expert of their own lives. Art is inherently antithetical to any of the “shoulds” and “musts” that we are taught to follow. This liberating power that art wields allows us to use it as a teacher and tool to heal the depths of trauma created by gender and power-based violence personally, communally, and systemically." - A
Avantika (they/she) is an immigrant artist and community organiser. Through their education, work, and lived experience, Avantika hopes to create radical and welcoming healing spaces that centre community and art to advance the healing process. This focus stems from her pursuit of liberation at the personal and collective level, and the importance of healing transgenerationally, personally, and communally in this pursuit.
Avantika’s activism is driven by their acute awareness of power systems, and the violence these systems incur on the mind and body. She is inspired by the work of Dev, a community organiser who wrote on the work of cultural workers: a person whose art is built towards a culture of liberation. This artistic vision strives to use the creative process to identify and arrest forms of oppression, be it racism, xenophobia, colonialism, patriarchy. In recognition that these -isms are not only deeply complex at both the systemic level and an individual one, Avantika trusts the power of art to create space for people to explore these complexities.
As such, their art extends from this value and is forged by their experiences and familial histories. The influences that further her drive towards liberation are evident in her work, where family members, cultural pride, and identity are narrated by symbols, pattern, and form. Their work wields colour and movement to further illustrate stories of healing, connection, anger, and love. Each piece exemplifies how they have not only navigated and confronted systemic violence, but also allowed them to help others explore the intimate process of learning and unlearning through art.
“The world as we live in feels too big and difficult to unpack, but art gives me that place to see how I and all that I am interacts with the world. It has provided me the space to learn about what kind of culture I want to create that is conducive to personal and collective liberation. I uphold the liberation of all beings and strive for a world where we are able to be our truest selves, held in deep love." - A
Avantika has about four years of experience with non-profit work that supports survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking such as the Freedom Network, The Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project, and the Wanda Alston Foundation. They have also been featured as an artist in-residence with organisations such as the East Coast Asian American Student Union, and contributed to community-based projects such as the Lotus Womb. Avantika is now working towards their Master of Social Work at Columbia University in New York. You can see their featured pieces below. For more, you can request to follow Avantika on their Instagram at @artsbyavanti.