The Other Side
The Other Side
Art Exhibition by Meena Matai at Dougherty Arts Center (DAC)
Exhibition: March - May, 2023
Guest Lecture with 1947 Partition Archive + Artist's Talk held April 7, 2023: Youtube link to talks held at DAC
My exhibition, "The Other Side," is a powerful exploration of the personal stories and emotions of my family and the millions affected by the India-Pakistan partition of 1947. Through my paintings, I'm trying to bring to life the experiences of the refugees who found themselves on the wrong side of the divide and the lasting impact this event has had on the lives of over ten million Indians and Pakistanis. As we mark 75 years since the partition, this exhibition serves as a poignant reminder of memories that are at risk of being forgotten and an important call to foster positive connections and build a supportive community.
"When my grandparents were forced to leave their family home due to the India-Pakistan partition in 1947, they thought it was just temporary unrest and they'd return home in a few days. To risk not losing their valuables, they locked everything in an iron box, and buried the box in the basement. My grandfather trusted the neighbor and told him, “Take my keys," asking him to keep the house safe. "I’ll return,” he said. They parted with a hug. My grandparents or my parents never got to go back to the other side to see their homes, their land or any of their belongings. This piece depicts all of the riches, valuables, left behind on both sides of the border. I wonder how many such boxes with unclaimed keys are out there?"
On April 7, 2023, a guest lecture featuring Dr. Guneeta Singh Bhalla, the founder of The 1947 Partition Archive, and Artist’s talk by Meena Matai were held at the DAC. The lecture talked about peoples’ plight during the Partition and launched the Archive’s first book featuring personal stories and perspectives that explore the ways in which the history of the subcontinent continues to shape our lives today, both locally and globally.
In my search for more information, I was lucky to get in touch with The 1947 Partition Archive - a non-profit organization committed to preserving and institutionalizing the people's history of the Partition. The Archive collects and preserves oral histories, providing a comprehensive understanding of not only the Partition but also the pre-Partition culture and post-Partition migrations and transformations. Since its founding in 2008, the Archive has amassed over 10,000 memories from 500+ cities across 15 countries.