New exhibition sheds light on experienced trauma and cultivates hope

Posted On Tuesday May 16, 2023

PARDA (veil) opens Thursday, May 18 at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Waterloo Region – May is Asian Heritage Month and the theme for 2023 is “Stories of Determination.” This month is a reminder for all of us to come together to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms. On the heels of mental health week #mystory, PARDA: A photography exhibit that will bring awareness surrounding the repression of experienced trauma in the South Asian culture is set to open Thursday, May 18 at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum. This is a limited time offering, on exhibit for four days only – closing Monday, May 22.

Artist Prachi Rathaur turns her lens on 19 courageous women to capture the essence of strength and resiliency. Curated by mental health advocate and wellness expert Iman Grewal, the pair have teamed up to create hope and healing through art.

“PARDA the exhibit is a visual emotional portrayal of the women who are in the different parts of their trauma journeys,” said Artist Prachi Rathaur. “Bringing these brave women together in this space is a powerful act. These portraits are a catalyst for conversation that changes the narrative. They allow each woman to see her inner strength and be proud of what they have accomplished.”

PARDA means “veil” or “curtain” and is used to “cover, wrap or hide” in many cultures dating back into the 7th century. The use of the word PARDA in this exhibit is a metaphor meant to shed light on the concealing of trauma experienced by South Asian women within their lifetime.  Trauma in its various forms from neglect, abandonment, grief and separation to physical and physiological violence and abuse, war, and even illness, is experienced by many.

“More often than not, trauma is not spoken of in the South Asian community. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the shame and guilt trauma brings to the reputation of an individual and their families,” says Curator Iman Grewal. “In PARDA we replace those feelings and allow each courageous woman to celebrate where they are in their journey.”

This covering up and keeping these experiences concealed due to cultural stigma, is that PARDA. It is the soft, and sometimes forced silences that these brave individuals and their families endure in silence.

"Our cultural institutions play a vital role in raising community voices and advancing important conversations. Exhibits like PARDA help build a safer, healthier and more inclusive Waterloo Region,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman.

In addition to the exhibit Grewal and Rathaur will host a free panel discussion to humanize issues related to trauma, create bridges, build community and develop empathy and understanding that can expand perspectives. Registration is required for this free event, details as follows:

Panel Discussion: Storytelling Through Art

Thursday, May 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. (Register for the panel)

Join moderator Iman Grewal for a trauma informed panel discussion on the meaning of PARDA the exhibit explained by the Artist Prachi Rathaur. Learn about the exhibition conception process, its message and its purpose beyond this one event. Featuring Nav Dhillon and Dr. Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, two of the courageous women featured in the PARDA exhibit.

PARDA opens Thursday, May 18 at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum.
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