I interpreted the concept of rebirth as being a radical act of introspection and retrospection that often leads to new conclusions about oneself and the reality around them. It is the result of searching and critically analyzing the forces and histories outside you and within you. Rebirth is a state of arrival, a state of awakening, a state of wokeness. And this product of profound contemplation is a powerful weapon to fight injustices, especially the many types of oppressions that PoC face.
When illustrating these pictures, I reflected upon my personal moments of rebirth. One particular example is the one I had about the myth of model minority. As a South Asian woman of colour, I fall into this category. It is a myth not just perpetuated by the larger white media, but also prominent members of the model minority communities as well. Of course this is completely false and problematic. I realized this when I was exposed to environments and people that clearly indicated this. Exposure, followed by reflection is what made me realize that respectability politics does not stop social injustice towards PoC. This moment of rebirth, this arrival to a truth, was not the only one I’ve had of course. For example, I now am aware that colourism within the South Asian community is a result of colonialism, capitalism, classism and casteism. Each time I have a moment of rebirth, it is liberating and more nuanced and informative than the last because I have the language to describe and understand the reason for the many forms of oppression people face in the world.
In my illustrations, I wanted to portray images of brown women like myself having this moment of rebirth. I wanted to show them meditating on the truths that they have come upon and with determined faces that look like they are planning actions to address them. I wanted to show images of radical brown women doing radical form of introspection. Rebirth is a dynamic and personal process because each time I awaken to something new, I learn more about myself, where I come from and the world around me. It changes perspectives. Paradigm shifts are powerful, they are a super power.
Chandrakari (Srutika Sabu) is a part time artist, part time med student and full time transnational child. Born in North India to South Indian parents, immigrated to Canada and now lives in New Jersey. Her artwork takes inspiration from her loves: anime, video games and transnational feminism. You can find her on tumblr, instagram, and her website.