Learning to unlearn has been a central theme in my art practice. My focus has been on conceptualizing ideas that help the decolonization of all spaces. Physical, but especially mental spaces.
After 150 years of British rule, today my people feel disconnected from our own culture. The push for assimilation towards western ideas has created an identity crisis in a post-colonial India. Up until I was 8, I went to a Convent school in a small town called Moga, where we were only allowed to speak English to each other. From my very origin I’ve been tailored to disassociate from my own language. As I grew older my family moved to New Delhi where I found the language of visual art. This was a tool that helped me give form to ideas that I could never formulate using words.
“What Once Was” Watercolor Collage
My art practice, and my time away from home when I moved to Los Angeles, lead me to mend the disconnection to my culture. I began recognizing the authorities and influences that were implicitly molding my cultural identity. I have grown up learning that America is the land where dreams come true for everyone, and I moved here chasing that.
Living in America and navigating the western art world brought me face to face with the deep rooted systemic racism present in the structures set up globally. I have turned to the practice of institutional critique as a way to decolonize and de-establish power plays.
My practice is based in exploring the forces that have destabalized the identity in every colonized body. Through research, readings, and living, I am learning to unlearn.
Jaya Kang is a 24 year old artist from Punjab, India who graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2020. Her art practice is multi-disciplinary and based in critical theory. Her work highlights and picks at the issues that surround the identity formation of women of color, the interrelated forces that systematically oppress marginalised bodies and the direct correlation of colonialism to environmental decay.
Check out Jaya Kang at jayakang.com and via Instagram: @jayakangart