They say art, media and entertainment are arguably the biggest vehicles of communication that exist today. For instance, a important message is going to be given a much bigger platform if it is said by Beyonce at the MTV VMA’s. However, long before the media and entertainment become the driving force behind our celebrity obsessed culture today, art has been around for centuries. Paintings, sculptures and other forms of visual artistry is something that is common to every empire, every ethnic group, every time period and every culture throughout history.
While it may seem like Reality TV is our “dumbed-down” version of what real art is, there are many artists today using their creative talent to share importance messages in society, such as female empowerment, women’s rights and gender equality.
New Jersey artist Dipti Kulkarni created a series of 15 paintings called ‘Women’s Rights and Empowerment’ and has been exhibiting her work in her native India, as well as on the East Coast in New York and New Jersey. But her work became the focus of a National Organization for Women (NOW) meeting in November 2014 where her paintings were displayed, and is getting more attention here in the United States.
Dipti is an IT professional in the finance industry and has worked with leading investment banks like Credit Suisse and Bank of America. She currently works for a startup called BootSimply Solutions and is a self-taught artist.
“My artwork highlights the social issues that a woman undergoes right from when she is in the womb throughout her life. I believe that an art has a great power of expression and can influence and hence I’ve used my art to bring social awareness,” she explained in an interview. “I want women to stand up, raise their voice and live with pride and respect.”
Her aim is to raise consciousness about the social dangers women face every day across the world through her paintings which are a beautiful yet emotional view on these sufferings.
“Gender-discrimination, in general, has been going on for ages. The education has brought awareness amongst women. Now she is struggling for her rightful place in the society. I am depicting her plight, struggle through my art,” says the description of her series on her website.
“My works concentrate on the agonies that a woman faces throughout her entire life- right from when she is in womb till the end. Some of the issues are primarily related to South Asian countries.”
None of the pieces in her collection are for sale as Dipti explains each painting was created with such emotion that she could not part with them.
She found it “extremely challenging and difficult to paint something that is so sad, depressing and painful.”
Subject matters include gang rape, child abuse, and workplace harassment, however the series concludes with pieces such as “Life is Beautiful” where a girl seeks to fly away from her burdens and ends with “Hope.”
“I’ve put together a seven-piece artwork that joins together and forms a tree,” she said. “This work portrays that the people on this earth are uniting together to help eliminate these issues and form a blossoming colorful tree.”
Dipti has been affected by the injustices and discrimination women continue to face in the struggle for equality, and used vibrant contrasting colors to express her emotions in the paintings.
“I dream a future where women will be considered at par with men and make this world a beautiful place to live,” she said, adding that the lack of safety and security women experience have created a deep sense of despair and helplessness.
The 2012 news story of a woman who was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi impacted her in a big way and was a tipping point for this kind of news in India. It essentially empowered many other women to speak up, and forced the Indian government to tackle these crimes after mounting pressure from citizen protests.
Dipti is saddened by these crimes (many of which still go unreported) and especially the culture of silence that is often inflicted upon victims because of the patriarchal mindset that still exists in India.
“The poor woman!” exclaimed Dipti. “She gives birth, goes through tough time in her pregnancy, she tries to fight on all fronts, she works hard towards well-being of her family, she has to be best in all her roles, she has to earn money and support her family too. She tries to keep quite if she is a victim herself of any of the social issues because she is concerned about her family and she is a weaker entity in this society.”
She has been excited by the reaction to her work both in India and in the United states because it shows although each individual problem and the two cultures may be very different, the female struggle is a universal concept.
“These countries have different issues, but these issues touch women equally. It is not just about appreciating my artwork but about picking up this type of topic that many don’t take up,” she said.
“My primary aim and vision is to project her problems through art and do my share to contribute in the development of the society. I believe that the art can influence people. The art has the power- I consider- to facilitate a change in the society. I dream a future where women will be considered at par with men and make this world a beautiful place to live.”
We have included a few of our favorite pieces from her collection, and you can take a look at all 15, as well as other artwork from Dipti, by clicking this link.