The Sikh Coalition is pleased to announce the opening of “Virsa: Our History” – an exhibit designed by Sikh American Youth. The primary purpose of the project was the creation of a traveling exhibition that represents the viewpoints and issues affecting young Sikhs Americans. It is the first traveling art exhibit made by young Sikhs in the United States.
On January 31, 2004 seventeen young adults (from middle school to college students) gathered at a local community college in Seattle, Washington. Over the ensuing months, these young Sikhs discussed the different ways of living out their faith in the midst of social and cultural pressures. Through these discussions, Rene Yung, a San Francisco based Chinese American artist, developed “Portals & Pathways” in collaboration with the youth.The art is meant to reflect the viewpoints of young Sikhs to defining their identity despite the pressures of assimilation in America. The exhibition also acts as point of discussion on Sikh issues inside and outside the community.
Creation of the Exhibition
“Portals & Pathways” was derived from the basic layout of the Harmander Sahib, in Amritsar, Punjab. The unique architecture of Harmander has a door on each of the four sides of the building, symbolizing acceptance of people from all faiths, classes, communities and creeds. Ms. Yung and the young Sikhs decided to create a piece that depicted four portals interconnected to an adjoining "pool."
Each Pathway in the youth artwork has a specific theme: Culture, Daily Life, Religion and Sikh Immigration, to visually depict aspects of their lives. The pathways lead to and circulate around a central point of contemplation represented by the Reflection Pool, which is surrounded by a border of dried flowers and spices. The whole arrangement is encircled by a border written with the participant’s thoughts on the four themes. The pathways float several inches above the ground, a soft light emanating out from within. The exhibit is accompanied by four panels that provide more details of each of the aspects reflected in the art work.
This exhibit is made possible with support from the following sponsors: 4Culture, Institute of Museum & Library Services, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Amgen Foundation, Humanities Washington, PONCHO, The Rockefeller Foundation.
To Host the exhibit
The exhibit will be available in August to tour different schools, universities, city halls, museums, religious or social institutions. If you are interested in hosting the exhibit, please contact the Sikh Coalition at email@example.com
About the Wing Luke Asian Museum
The Wing Luke Asian Museum is located in the heart of Seattle's historic Chinatown/ International District. Founded in 1967, the Museum has a regional and national significance, and celebrates its namesake of the first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest, Wing Luke. The Wing Luke Asian Museum- an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the 1995 recipient of the National Award for Museum Service, and the 2004 recipient of the City of Seattle Distinguished Human Rights Award- is dedicated to engaging the public in exploring issues related to the culture, art and history of Asian Pacific Americans.