আমি এক নারী। 
I am a Woman.

Digital Art Series for Senior Art Thesis Exhibition
As a part of my senior art thesis exhibition at Mercyhurst University in April 2017 at Cumming Art Gallery, the আমি এক নারী। ​​​​​​​I Am A Woman digital art series went through several phases which included brainstorming, research work, preliminary design exploration, and final design process. Working with vectors, patterns, photography, and vibrant colors was the primary goal in communicating a socio-cultural message.


Preliminary Design Exploration
Left: Feminize Gaze 
Textures and patterns as the highlight of this piece. The design was created to exemplify subservience in patriarchal societies. 

Right: Gramer Shundori
Literally translated "Gramer Shundori" means "Beauty of the Villager". Drawing inspiration from Madhuri's (Bollywood actress) fashion and icon scenes, this particular vectro design bring together beauty added in through the form of various textures, abstract geometric forms, and a very vibrant yet natural color palette. Representing a typical Hindu woman's daily makeup, the woman is dressed with Shindur (red chalk powder on scalp to signify marital status), a red bindi, a nose-pin, long drop earrings, long black lashes, and red lips. The flowers masking her face tune her complexion with the beauty of the village.
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Final Digital Artworks : I Am A Woman.
The Bangla translations for the word “woman” caters to a range of patriarchal expectations of the supposed ‘cultural’ roles of a woman, such as being a maid, housewife, Mrs., prostitute, homemaker, mother etc. Drawing on this concept, the series “আিম এক নারী। (I am a Woman.)” challenges these preconceived roles that revolve around a woman’s martial status, and tells the story of each translation as it liberates itself from the role and embraces the identity of a woman. The series draws its inspiration primarily from Nimisha Bhanot’s paintings of Indian pin-ups that feature women breaking Indian stereotypes and challenge age-old patriarchal ways of Indian society. Similarly, these works of digital manipulation use graphic design as a medium to express self-portraits through styles, themes, and colors that challenge current patriarchal stereotypes dictating the preconceived status and identity of a woman in Bangladeshi societies. This series is an intellectual introspection into the established roles and statuses of womanhood embedded in the Bangladeshi culture and society. 

This series of artworks was displayed in “Story Telling” a Senior Art Thesis Exhibition hosted by Mercyhurst University Cummings Art Gallery in April 2017. Original self-portraits are drawn from a photoshoot directed by myself, and photographed by Bangladeshi fashion-photographer Nirjon.
Left: 
বউ নয়, আিম এক নারী। 
Not your Bou, I am a Woman.
They say, “Kitty parties and Bengali/Hindi TV soaps are all a bou knows.”

Literally translated বউ (Bou) means “woman, housewife, bride or daughter-in-law.” Contextually, however, the word often refers to the activities of the wives in the household. Upon getting married,it is customary for women to move in with to the husband’s parents’ home. If the household has more than one son, the wives of the sons all live under that one roof, i.e. the parent’s home. The daughter-in-laws of the household often draw inspiration from Bengali and Hindi b-grade TV dramas or soaps as primary guides to their own marital lifestyles. Their activities revolve around hosting kitty parties (Bengali versions of tea parties) where catty gossip about their marital problems are up for scrutiny and expressions of pride or vanity become central figures of conversation. This piece uses the glitch effect to challenge and further portray the fading of this b-grade quality of nonintellectual leisurely activities.

Right:
পত্নী নয়, আিম এক নারী।
Not your Patni, I am a Woman.
They say, “Mrs. is a title, not a relationship status.”

Literally translated পত্নী (Patni) means “woman, spouse, wife, old woman, helpmate, missus, or partner.” Contextually, however, the word is synonymous to the concept of a patriarchal partnership rather than a domestic partnership. Within the confines of Bangladeshi culture, a woman’s first name is not one of any significance. In fact until marriage, a girl is referred to as the daughter of the father of the house, and after marriage a woman takes on last name of her husband’s family and adds the title changes the title from Ms. to Mrs. The notion of first name, an identity that is solely that of a woman’s and not one that changes to validate a marriage certificate, is foreign notion. This piece juxtaposes that idea, and glorifies the vibrancy of the identity of a woman as a Ms. and not one that validates a relationship status.
Left: 
স্ত্রী​​​​​​​ নয়, আিম এক নারী। 
Not your Stri, I am a Woman.
They say, “Purda is a norm, not a choice.”

Literally translated স্ত্রী(Stri) or স্ত্রীলোক (Strilok) means “woman, wife, lady, and bedfellow, or weaker sex, womankind, and womanhood.” Contextually, however, the word is often synonymous to the concept of a wife as the weaker and more submissive role in a relationship. A Bangla saying that reads, “A wife’s heaven is at the soles of her husband’s feet,” captures the concept of purda in Bangladesh, where being a spouse is not considered a partnership, rather a dutiful reverence to the needs of her husband, her marital family, and the thereby the socially acceptable roles of womanhood as the weaker sex. Purda, subtracted from the religious context and within the marital boundaries, is often symbolic of the socially accepted weakness as the established gender adjective for women. This piece highlights exactly that in framing the act of purda with a bridal veil and constricted by the walls of gender norms.

Right:
দাসী নয়, আিম এক নারী।
Not your Dashi, I am a Woman.
They say, “When a man cooks, it’s an art. When a woman cooks, it’s her duty.”

Literally translated দাসী (Dashi) means “woman, maid, or maidservant.” Contextually, however, the word often refers to housework that are customarily duties of the wives of the household. Wifely duties often include cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, and caring for the house. Or in most cases managing the servants of the household (who are often female) who are carrying out those wifely duties. This piece uses textures and symbols to draw attention to these roles in questioning this translation that is synonymous to women being culturally identified by their wifely duties.
Left: 
গৃহিণী​​​​​​​ নয়, আিম এক নারী।
Not your Grihini, I am a Woman.
They say, “Gender roles come in a single color.”

Literally translated গৃহিণী (Grihini) means “woman, housewife, dame, wife, or mistress.” Contextually, however, the word solidifies women’s roles in primary marital role as a housewife. This piece juxtaposes the concept of a housewife as the primary role of a woman, using triple color exposures to establish that gender roles do not have preset contexts. The role of a housewife is diverse, based on and in accordance to various personal background and choices.

Right:
মা নয়, আিম এক নারী।
Not your Ma, I am a Woman.
They say, “Motherhood is a woman’s destiny, not a lifestyle choice.”

Literally translated মা (Ma) means “woman or mother.” Contextually, however, the word is often used to the concept of motherhood, one that is secondary to woman’s role as a housewife. Motherhood in Bangladesh is gender equivalent to parenting, as any and all parenting and child rearing is done by a mother, therefore the goal of marriage is to establish the only supposed role as a woman, that is being a mother. In a third world country like Bangladesh, reproduction – especially below the poverty line – is the ultimate financial asset building tool that is at a family’s disposal. More children, especially male children, means more money, therefore the concept of motherhood becomes especially important for a woman’s secondary role in society, making it a custom and not a choice. This piece brings to light this very concept and uses multiple textural and symbolic exposures to highlight the struggles of womanhood ultimately being replaced by motherhood as a preset future and not a lifestyle choice.
Left:
মাগী নয়, আিম এক নারী।
Not your Magi, I am a Woman.
They say, “There is a definitive correlation between rape, prostitution, and shame.”

Literally translated মাগী (Magi) means “woman, prostitute, or jade.” Contextually, however, the word is a culturally accepted swear word or curse word. It definitely refers to the act of prostitution in literature, however, in reality the word is an overused form of scrutiny and passing judgment, a mere adjective to describe any act of disobedience to culturally accepted actions or behavior of a woman. For example, if a woman were to dress in what is considered “Western” clothing, i.e. jeans and a t-shirt, and walk down the street, magi would be a common slur thrown at her by the male public (sometimes even by other women) with comments such as “She is dressed like a prostitute.” This piece brings to light the notion of shame and guilt, that is often felt by general female populace and even victims or rape, when their appearance, actions, or personality isn’t in line with culturally accepted notions of how a woman ought to behave in society.

Right:
বিবি নয়, আিম এক নারী।
Not your Bibi, I am a Woman.
They say, “Women are familial and societal commodities, and following cultural conventions are our measures of value.”

Literally translated বিবি (Bibi) means “woman, housewife or queen.” Contextually, however, the word often refers to the primary status of wives in the household. Equivalent to the Western concept of a “trophy wife,” a Bangladeshi woman’s role in their marital household often measures up to her father’s and husband’s financial net worth and societal status. This piece highlights the concept of a trophy wife as a woman’s financial net worth and societal status, married or not, is equivalent to that of a man’s, father or husband’s, and not that of her own accord, intellectually or financially. It brings to light the status of women as familial and societal commodities as the subject is confined within puppeteered lines of cultural conventions.
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