Gurpreet Sehra was born and brought up in the Greater Toronto Area. She is an artist working primarily in paint, performance and video. She has completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree and Diploma Program in Art and Art History and Sociology from the University of Toronto and Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. She recently completed her Master of Fine Art degree at The University of Manitoba. She is currently pursuing her practice-based PhD at Transart Institute/Plymouth University.
The aim of my project is to gain an understanding of appropriation as it relates to the formation of collective trauma. The term collective trauma refers to the experience of trauma, by a community or group of people, such as religious or cultural persecution. Using my art practice as a primary research method, I aim to use the history of Dutch wax prints as a starting point for my investigation into cultural appropriation and the gendered, diasporic Sikh-Punjabi body. The key goal of this project is to contribute to the growing body of work about the Sikh-Punjabi diasporas; I will take a multi-disciplinary approach, one that draws from art-making and other disciplinary approaches and theories. Also key to this project is contributing to the much-needed material and historical study of Dutch wax prints. How might an art practice rooted in the techniques of appropriation reveal and represent collective trauma, within the contemporary and historical context of cultural appropriation, and in relation to Sikh-Punjabi diasporic bodies? My research is situated through my own identity, as a Canadian, female, Sikh-Punjabi and heterosexual. I seek to generate knowledge and understanding of contemporary traumas as related to Sikh-Punjabi bodies through the material and cultural investigation of acts of appropriation. What new traumas are manifesting themselves as a result of new appropriations? In looking at trauma in relation to appropriation, what are the power relations at play?