Monday March 19, 2018

Art exhibit to spread awareness about Sikh identity in the US

Image: Wikimedia commons

NEW DELHI: Even after fifteen years of the 9/11 tragedy, Sikhs in the US feel they are more likely to face profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American because of the two distinct symbols of their identity-the beard and the turban.

To spread better awareness about their religion, a new Sikh art exhibit will be held in New York later this year to showcase the pride taken by the community in their religious and cultural practices.

UK-based photographers Amit and Naroop will click portraits of Sikh Americans under ‘The Sikh Project’ mounted by The Sikh Coalition. These portraits will be unveiled around the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

The Coalition is the largest Sikh American advocacy and community development organisation in the US and works towards the realisation of civil and human rights for all people, particularly Sikhs.

After their critically acclaimed exhibit in the UK, the two photographers, who are proud of their Sikh heritage, said they are “very excited” about their upcoming exhibition.

“We are very excited! In the US, it will serve as an educational piece as well as an art project as the awareness of the Sikh identity is still misunderstood; so we are hoping it will have a wider impact,” the two photographers said in an email interview from New York.

The photography exhibit, which explores the beauty, style and symbolism of the Sikh articles of faith, will include both turbaned men and women and will feature a combination of iconic Sikh Americans and a few selected winners.

Speaking about how the idea of ‘The Sikh Project’ came to them, the two photographers said it was in 2013 that it struck them when they “noticed men of different backgrounds and ages growing beards for fashion, as part of their identity”.

“Being Sikh photographers, we wanted to show them that in our culture, the beard has been a part of the Sikh identity for hundreds of years,” they said.

They said their UK exhibition got “overwhelming response” and was “appreciated” and “respected” for its message and the way it was executed.

“The content and context resonated with people from different backgrounds as it is not just about Sikhs; it’s about pride for your identity.”

The two want their latest project to “stand up to the UK Singh Project and if anything do even better than it”.

“In the UK, we have witnessed how powerful art can be in positively educating the broader public about the Sikh community. We can’t wait to begin photographing the Sikh American experience and sharing those stories with the world as well.”

Amit and Naroop, in partnership with The Sikh Coalition, are currently casting for additional photography candidates and are asking turbaned Sikh Americans of all ages and genders to take part in this groundbreaking project. The deadline for the entry is May 1.

Related: The spirited journey of Canadian Sikhs

According to the Coalition’s Executive Director Sapreet Kaur, “The goal with bringing this project to the United States is the opportunity to combat bigotry by sharing a positive narrative of Sikhs in America through portraits and the incredible stories behind them.”

The Coalition was founded by volunteers on the night of September 11, 2001, in response to a torrent of violent attacks against Sikh Americans in the US.

Talking about the response of their subjects, the two photographers said it has been “fantastic”.

“The subjects involved have seen the success we have had, so they are excited to be involved. It’s the complete opposite of the UK Singh project as nobody wanted to be involved at first and it took a while for it to build momentum.”

They strongly feel that such an exhibition will help in showing the Sikh community in the US in a positive light and help fight the bigotry they face in their daily lives.

“Each one of the subjects has a story to tell, which will sit alongside the portrait. Some are positive, some are more dramatic, but through the stories, visitors of the exhibition will get to learn what it means to be an American Sikh, both in identity and also in spirit.”

 When asked whether the exhibition will help in highlighting the importance of the beard and turban, an important article of faith of the Sikh community. they said that they believed it would.The project, they said, is a fusion of their Sikh heritage and British upbringing.
 “It is traditional in content but the execution is modern and contemporary. Hopefully this has allowed it to spread to a wider audience. Has it been successful? It’s hard to judge. People have to be open to learn and understand other faiths and identities. All we can do is to try our best to spread the message. From the response we have had, it appears to have done the job, but there are always more people to reach.” (IANS)
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Facebook, YouTube dominate social media use in US

A majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook

Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook employees 'secret police' to catch information leakers. Pixabay
  • Facebook and Youtube are most popular apps in the US
  • The apps are particularly very popular among youngsters
  • Other popular apps are LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp etc.

When it comes to social media penetration in daily life, a majority of Americans are hooked on Facebook and YouTube but millennials prefer photo-sharing platforms Snapchat and Instagram, a new survey has revealed.

mobile apps that all women should have
Youngsters use a lots of app these days. Wikimedia Commons

According to the Pew Research Centre, 68 percent of all Americans use Facebook and three-quarters of that access the social media platform on a daily basis.

Nearly 74 percent of adults use YouTube and 94 percent of young users visit YouTube on their computers or smartphones.

Also Read: Apple takes the op spot in global wearables market

With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

“Younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71 percent) visit the platform multiple times per day,” the findings showed.

YouTube is another most popular app in the US. Pixabay
YouTube is another most popular app in the US. Pixabay

Similarly, 71 percent of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45 percent) are Twitter users, the survey noted.

“These findings also highlight the public’s sometimes conflicting attitudes toward social media. For example, the share of social media users who say these platforms would be hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014, the Pew Research Centre said.

Also Read: Google launches three new apps for photography

By the same token, a majority of users (59 percent) say it would not be hard to stop using these sites, including 29 percent who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.

Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78 percent among those ages 30 to 49, to 64 percent among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37 percent among Americans 65 and older.

Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women — 41 percent — than men (16 percent). LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in Latin America.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in Latin America.

“Some 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9 percent of those with a high school diploma or less,” the survey said.

The messaging service WhatsApp is popular in Latin America, and this popularity also extends to Latinos in the US – 49 percent of Hispanics report that they are WhatsApp users, compared with 14 percent of whites and 21 percent of blacks. IANS