Press Release: Pardafash (To Reveal the Truth) - Art from the Sikh Perspective

Press Release: Pardafash (To Reveal the Truth) – Art from the Sikh Perspective

UUU Art Collective – 153 State Street, Rochester, NY, 14614
July 8th – September 17th 2023

Curated by Ravjot Mehek Singh –

About the Show
Pardafash translates “to reveal the truth” in Punjabi and other common languages in
South Asia. In an era plagued by anti AAPI hate crimes and hailing from the home country of
India that perpetuates unrest and oppression against ethnic and religious minorities, 8 Sikh
artists unify to paint a vision of their experiences living in post 9/11 America. Through a range of
mediums including fabric sculpture, video installation, fashion design, AR, film, painting, and
animation, these artists reveal the hidden stories of their people and the trauma of recent
historical tragedies – some of which are too difficult to speak about publicly out of fear of being
targeted by the Indian government even today. Pardafash not only speaks volumes about the
current day status of Sikhs but also serves as a one of a kind exhibit. Where historically,
prominent Sikh art exhibits feature historical pieces, this is a contemporary take on the recent
events that changed the lives of all Sikh people. It is also one of the only prominent Sikh exhibits
to be curated by a Queer Sikh woman.

What is it like to be a minority within a minority? There are only 26 million Sikhs
worldwide, 24 million of which live in India, which has a total population of 1.4 billion, making
Sikhs of the diaspora a minority not only in the countries they immigrated to, but a minority in
their own home nation to begin with. What does it look like to have one’s needs, one’s faith,
one’s identity constantly pushed to the back or silenced in favor of the majority?
Pardafash is an exploration of one small but mighty group’s plea to be heard, to have
their history written into mainstream textbooks in all nations, to erase propaganda that is
convenient to use when Sikhs are advocating for their rights, to be able to live in their homeland
in peace without fear of speaking up. Under the cover of art, Ravina Toor, Sundeep Morrison,
Babneet Lakhesar, Navpreet Singh, Kanwardeep Kaur, Uday Vir Singh, Sunroop Kaur, and
curator Ravjot Mehek Singh are able to fearlessly speak their truth out loud without having to
say a word of their own.

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Curator and Artist – Ravjot Mehek Singh

Ravjot Mehek Singh is an award winning Indian American
Film and TV Director and art activist. With many multifaceted
successes under her belt at a young age, many Indian
magazines and news outlets refer to her as one of the
youngest female directors in Bollywood and one of the only
openly LGBTQ+ women directors in South Asia. By the time
she was 21, she had directed 3 television talk shows for the
largest Asian American TV channel, Jus Punjabi. She has
directed major Bollywood music videos and was listed as
being the youngest female music video director to ever be
launched by T-Series (India’s largest record label) in 2021.
Ravjot’s work also takes on art installations which have been featured in galleries and museums
such as the Guggenheim Museum in collaboration with other talented artists and in various art
galleries in New England, USA. As a LGBTQ+ activist, she has been featured in countless
magazines, articles, and shows including Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan magazine. Her film
and art activism work is driven by a passion to create lasting change not only in the
entertainment field, but in society. An advocate for change through art, Ravjot constantly works
with large scale organizations such as Phenomenal, Impact, Sikh Coalition, PBS, Boston Globe,
and YWCA to create change and advocate for a better, more just future.

Ravina Toor
Ravina Kaur Toor is a self taught multi-disciplinary artist whose
artwork respects a microcosm of collectiveness, visually
encapsulating her deep admiration for her Punjabi-Sikh roots.
Fusing art with personal experiences as a second generation child,
Toor engages with the conversation of dual-identities and the
importance of celebrating one’s ancestral roots. By integrating,
expanding, and regenerating advocacy in art, she brings light to the
importance of showcasing how connected we truly are, and the power of standing as one.
Born in 1997 to immigrant parents in Edmonton, Toor studied Human Resources and Marketing
at the University of Alberta graduating in the midst of a global pandemic in 2020. Since 2020m
she has launched a successful international business, growing an online following of over
80,000, was commissioned by the BUMP Festival of Calgary to paint a mural in downtown in
2021, and painted two murals commissioned by Meadows Community League in Edmonton in

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2022. This year, Toor started new projects including illustrating her first children’s illustration
book, in addition to working with community organizations and facilitating paint nights targeted
towards multiple generations in the community throughout Alberta. As an artist and facilitator,
she is motivated in working with youth to create artistic opportunities that she wished she had
growing up.

Navpreet Singh
Navpreet Singh also known as Nav the Poet is a spoken
word artist. videographer, and video editor who has
been writing and performing since 2011. Nav travels
across the US sharing his art, stories, and experiences
and uses media to break barriers and build bridges. All
of this is done in an effort to foster dialogue and develop
a deeper understanding of one another so that together
we may create a better world.

Sundeep Morrison
Sundeep Morrison (they/them) is an award winning Queer
Non-binary Punjabi Sikh actor, writer and director. Sundeep
recently received the award for Best Drama at United Solo (2022)
and was awarded the Disruptors TV Writing Fellowship (2021) and
was proud to be part of the Trans and Non-Binary cohort. A
graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy New
York, their work focuses on social justice, sexuality, and gender. A
child of Punjabi Sikh immigrants, Sundeep pursues their passion
as a storyteller to explore the beautiful and at times painful
complexities of growing up with deep eastern roots in a western
world. Inspired by their parents, Sundeep’s celebrated solo show RAG HEAD: An American
Story sheds light on the often misunderstood and misrepresented Sikh community and the rise
in xenophobia in post 9/11 America. Sundeep’s work has been featured in international
publications and has also been written about in academic texts such as the Routledge Studies
in Religion and Politics: Racialization, Islamophobia and Mistaken Identity. Actively utilizing their
platforms to amplify marginalized voices and build bridges in their community, they have worked
with the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and the San Diego ACLU. Sundeep also
works as a volunteer and community organizer advocating for ICE detainee rights and
translating in Punjabi and Hindi for detainees seeking asylum in the US.

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Babneet Lakhesar
Babneet Lakhesar is a punjabi-Canadian visual artist lives in Toronto,
and primarily works in Acrylic Paintings and Sculpture. At the age of
six she immigrated to Canada from India. Her experiences as an
immigrant and her cultural background have greatly influenced her
practice. She draws inspiration from her Indian heritage and art
forms such as traditional miniature paintings and frescoes.
Incorporating these motifs and patterns, she creates vibrant and
striking imagery in her paintings. The artist’s work explores themes of
self-identity, identity crisis and challenges societal notions of beauty
and representation. Often, the artist will depict herself in her art, particularly in her photography,
as a means of exploring these themes and expressing her own experiences and perspectives.
She takes a colorful pop approach to her work, which is an important aspect of her artistic style,
and the vibrant and bold colors of traditional Indian art are central to her aesthetic. By doing so,
she hopes to provide a space for marginalized voices and start a conversation about the
experiences of diaspora, displacement, and the search for a sense of belonging. Her personal
immigration story is an integral part of her artistic journey and is reflected in her work.

DesiPun – Uday Vir Singh
Uday Vir was born and brought up in Jalandhar, Punjab and received a
Master’s in New Media from National Institute of Design, India.
Undiagnosed and unaddressed Dyslexia during his childhood led him to
use art as his way to express himself. During his college days, he
formed his alter ego ‘DesiPun’ using digital media tools while exploring

the concept of abstraction through animation and creating narrative-
based merchandise. Uday works on a range of subjects, some for

brands, and others for his soul. It is through hard-hitting storytelling that
Uday’s art finds its place in contemporary circles.
DesiPun – Kanwardeep Kaur
Kanwar is a pediatric dentist by profession and a creative thinker by
passion. Between treating children, teaching students, and working on
her family’s textile business, she finds time to express the art within
through Desipun.
Her superpower lies in being a jack of all trades. It is through this ability
to multi-task across genres, fields, and professions that she can bring
semblance to an otherwise disconnected and chaotic world. Both Uday
and Kanwar have been working collaboratively since 2018.

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Sunroop Kaur
Sunroop Kaur (b. 1997, Calgary, AB) holds a BFA in Visual Arts
from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2019). Kaur is an
interdisciplinary artist currently working in between Vancouver
and Northern California. Her practice employs Eastern +
Western iconography to decontextualize cultural materials, and
create spaces that reclaim/subvert South Asian narratives. Using
cultural hybridity as a lens, Kaur is able to translate the
struggles of a lived experience while allowing for the synthesis of
critical spaces and generative dialogue within the Punjabi Sikh
Diaspora. Her practice is a distillation of familial and community
history— through which she counteracts the legacies of colonial
violence and theft. She hopes her work is a restorative force that can facilitate reconciliation and
healing for her community.
Initiating encounters for cultural conversations – UUU Art Collective, a Benefit
Corporation, is a contemporary art gallery, music club, and bar in Rochester, NY. Since
its founding in 2015, UUU has helped many emerging artists grow in their artistic
expression and commercial relevance. UUU believes that cultural conversations shaped
by the artist with their audience create the dynamic that endures in their art and in their