Artwallah is a Los Angeles-based festival showcasing the South Asian experience through art. Founded in 1998 by artists and activists, the festival went on hiatus for seven years after 2010 and returned last year. I first encountered it in 2004 and felt incredibly enriched and inspired by it in the years I attended events at the hilltop Barnsdall Art Park and downtown Little Tokyo locations.
This year, in its second year of revival, the festival will be presenting South Asian diasporic arts through music, dance, performance, literature, film, the visual arts, and workshops. Artwallah LA for 2018 is scheduled for June 1-2 at Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica.
South Asian artists in the southern California area who wish to submit proposals and those who would like to participate as volunteers may apply online through March 31. Artwallah LA 2018 will also include a South Asian Youth Art Exhibit in its events. Festival organizers are actively searching for youth to submit artworks, and they encourage people to share the youth art exhibit application with anyone who may be interested.
For more on the festival and the youth art exhibit, read The Aerogram’s quick Q&A with artist and sociology graduate student Kunj Bhatt, who is part of Artwallah LA’s organizing committee.
How/why did you get involved with Artwallah LA?
I became involved in ArtWallah LA because of my passion for art. During my high school and early undergraduate years, the art (visual and textual) works that were discussed in my courses were Eurocentric. Discussions on and exposure to works by diverse artists was nonexistent. Even in our own desi communities and households the pursuit or discussion of the arts is limited and often the focus is on classical Indian films and music.
Artwallah LA is inspiring because it connects our diasporic identities with art and vice versa. It is a space for South Asian diasporic experiences to be voiced as well as an official invitation, if it was ever needed, for South Asian adults and children to engage in and share their creative passions with all.
What are you most looking forward to about ArtWallah LA?
What I am most excited about for this year’s festival is the South Asian Youth Art Exhibit. We are actively searching for South Asian youth in Southern California to submit their artworks. I’m sure that many “older” artists, including myself, would have loved to have this opportunity growing up.
What do you think youth who participate will get from the experience?
I hope that this experience is a memorable for the participants. First and foremost, selected works will be displayed at the Highways Performance Space and Gallery in Santa Monica during the two-day ArtWallah LA festival.
Bragging rights are always a plus, right? I mean, not a lot of us have had our works as part of an exhibit. It’s something special. I know that sometimes it can be difficult to find the courage to share something that maybe your parents don’t know about or there may be some self-doubt, but I would encourage them to be positive and have faith in themselves and the process.
Connecting with other like-minded peers and fellow artists is also a plus and similar to how this festival fosters a space for all South Asian artists, it does for youth too. Their voice is just as important. Ultimately, I hope that this experience cultivates a lifelong engagement in the arts.