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Artist Vivek Shraya Transcends Time To Honor Her Mother In This Poignant Photo Series

by Zoë Naseef

Artist Vivek Shraya’s new Ace Hotel exhibition, Trisha, is a photo series of self portraits in which Shraya recreates photographs of her mother from the 1970s. Shraya’s mother immigrated from India to Canada, and Shraya always looked up to her. She wrote in an essay to her mother, “I was right to worship you. You worked full-time, went to school part-time, managed a home, raised two children who complained about frozen food and make fun of your accent, and cared for your family in India. Most days in my adult life, I can barely care for myself.”

The title of the exhibit, Trisha, came from Shraya’s mother saying that if she had a girl she would have named her Trisha—Shraya is transgender. The concept for this project began when Shraya was transitioning and started noticing striking similarities in looks to her mother. The way she occupies different spaces and outfits in the images serves as an ode to breaking down gender barriers. In a press release, curator John Chaich says that the series serves to remind viewers that “queer people create our gender presentations with what’s available to us, wherever we are.”

In her beautiful essay to her mother, Shraya writes, “I see Dad’s body, as you wished. But the rest of me has always wished to be you.” She goes on to write, “Then I remind myself that the discomfort I feel is less about my body and more about what it means to be feminine in a world that is intent on crushing femininity in any form.”

Vivek Shraya: Trisha will be on display from July 12-August 31 in The Gallery at Ace Hotel. On August 27th she will be at Ace Hotel doing a exhibition closing/book launch for her new book I’m Afraid of Men. 

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