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grant opportunities
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Urmila Venkatesh

By Alan Bush

“I believe that everyone has a great story to tell, and often people don’t realize their own narrative gift. I like to tell others’ stories, but more often, I like to empower others to believe their story is worth sharing. Especially when it challenges a narrative being told by a more powerful entity.”

Thus Urmila explains her passion for visual ethnographies, or the art and practice of studying particular communities and representing them visually. While primarily a photographer, she dabbles in drawing to bring to life South Asian communities in urban areas of the US. Recent work has examined “how immigrants root themselves in public spaces to create ethnic enclaves and centers of community.”
Art and community are important themes, one’s that Urmila would like to continue after her studies, either educating on or employing art as a tool for community empowerment, or developing collaborative learning centers within universities. “The Digital Media Commons is a great example of the kind of initiative I am interested in.”

When asked what figure from history she would most like to talk with, she replied, “Raghubir Singh documented his native India in an unparalleled style, with a profound ability to translate movement and power and noise into a still image.” If she had the chance to sit and talk over dinner, she would quiz him on his thoughts behind the published work, “particularly about the Western gaze, about India in a colonial and post-colonial age, about what it means to make photographs as an insider or an outsider.”

Posted in Featured People by linda on the February 27th, 2009
GROCS: grant opportunities - collaborative spaces

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