Monica Jahan Bose addresses climate change, uniting two communities of colour
Over the course of five months working with more than 150 individuals in two countries, Monica Jahan Bose has created 60 saris for WRAPture, a large-scale outdoor project that will live for only three separate days this spring. This temporary public art project combines the Anacostia community in Washington DC and Katakhali Village, Barobaishdia Island in Bangladesh to activate saris with art and and drape them across five buildings in Historic Anacostia. Birthed from Bose’s ongoing six-year-old-project Storytelling with Saris, these massive colourful cotton handloom saris have been covered with customized woodblock printing, hand-painted images, and writings about climate change by Bose and the residents of these two communities. A team of installers and the community gathered with Bose on April 2 and 4 to complete the WRAPture installation.
The blue and green saris on Good Hope Road symbolise water, storms, and sea level rise. The purple-pink saris on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue represent women’s resilience in the face of climate change and the disparate gender (and economic and racial) impacts of climate change. WRAPture opens on April 4, the assassination date of Martin Luther King, Jr., in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, as a gesture of solidarity across communities of colour.
WRAPture is supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Public Art Building Communities Grant Program and led by Bangladeshi-American artist and activist, Monica Jahan Bose. Bose states, ‘The Earth has a fever, and we need to work fast to reduce our use of fossil fuels drastically. When we understand the impact of our energy use, we can make a difference as individuals despite governmental inaction. WRAPture, through the power of hands-on art, empowers and brings us together as a community in solidarity with each other.’ Since its November 2018 kickoff, WRAPture has worked with 12 women in Katakhali, Bangladesh and over 150 members of the community in Washington DC, including youth from Project Create, formerly homeless women, hearing- impaired individuals, and people of all ages, genders, and incomes. This inclusive project ensures that all events are accessible by wheelchair and sign and other language interpreters are provided as needed.
Participating residents of Anacostia and Katakhali Village were paid for their work during the sari workshops, as they learned about climate change and renewable energy. They also wrote poetry and sang songs about climate as they worked on the saris. The saris will later be worn as garments by the women of Katakhali. WRAPture includes an outdoor sound installation with songs and sounds from Katakhali and Anacostia collected by Bose and youth in Anacostia. There will also be a poetry, song, and spoken word showcase on April 14, 2019.
WRAPture is a work of art underscoring our relationship to the environment and the importance of community in addressing climate change.
A Bangladeshi-American artist and climate activist, Bose has exhibited her work extensively in the US and internationally (17 solo shows, numerous group exhibitions). With over 20 performances, Bose has engaged thousands of people. Her ongoing collaborative project Storytelling with Saris has traveled to ten states and several countries and been featured in numerous publications and TV and radio programs. Her work has appeared in the Miami Herald, the Washington Post, Art Asia Pacific, the Milwaukee Sentinel, the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the Japan Times, and all major newspapers in Bangladesh. In 2017-2018, she had multiple art events in Paris, France, and Athens, Greece and created a large-scale installation and performance for the Smithsonian in Honolulu. She has a BA in the Practice of Art (Painting) from Wesleyan University, a post-graduate Diploma in Art from Santiniketan, India, and a JD from Columbia Law School.