Shweta Bhattad – 2014 Residency Artist
Born and brought up in Nagpur, where she currently resides, Shweta did her bachelors in sculpture from her hometown and her masters in sculpture from M.S.U Baroda. She has been consistently trying to explore various mediums in all its possibilities via sculptural works or performances. Performance has become an integral part of her work now. For Shweta, her works are arbiters of truth, of social concern, as well as a medium to familiarize art among masses. Shweta has also worked across disciplines with totally different approaches. This includes her work around significant issues of women’s education, women’s safety – especially in her work with victims of sexual abuse and student suicides.
She was recently part of a residency in Bamboo Curtain Studio Taiwan supported by Khoj where she did a performance called Bharat Mata in Taiwan based on her struggle in conquering her fears as a woman in her own country. Her works have been exhibited in many group shows like ‘And the Falcon Passed through his Neck’ at LATITUDE 28, curated by Jasmine Wahi, a New York based curator, Art Asia Miami, Lalit Kala National Exhibition, Bombay Art Society, and so on.
Inspired by the Biennale’s Residency Program Theme of Martin Luther King’s speech, Shweta created the “I Have a Dream” community project and world wide farming initiative. As farmland is being reduced around the globe, Shweta hopes to draw attention to farming practices and communities by inviting artists to collaborate with farmers to sow fields or grow gardens in the shape of “I Have a Dream” in their own language. In doing so, Shweta brings art out of the studio and into the community, using art to empower communities through farming and gardening.
Although the project initially only started with some countries, already farmers, artists and community members from 27 different countries have engaged in this inspiring community project. From Japan to India, Italy to Squamish BC people have created art in their fields and gardens, participating in important conversations about human rights, the environment and farming practices.
During her residency in Squamish, Shweta connected with different local farmers in Squamish and Abbotsford who have planted their own “I Have a Dream” gardens. At the same time, Shweta was able to build large-scale wooden letters spelling out “I Have a Dream”, where video screens will displays interviews from all the different participating countries. This was made possible with the help of woodworker Masahiko Masuda (best known as Masa) who generously volunteered his time to help build the wooden structures. These photos and video screens enable the participating farmers and artists to share their stories, creating a record of 2014-16 farming histories from around the globe. By engaging local, regional and international communities, the “I Have a Dream” community project creates an opportunity for dialogue.