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Trans Artist Recreates Scenes From Mom's Old Photos

In her photo project, "Trisha," transgender artist Vivek Shraya recreates scenes from her mom's old photos.
A pair of images from Vivek Shraya's Trisha exhibit.
A pair of images from Vivek Shraya's Trisha exhibit.Vivek Shraya

At first glance, the photos on Vivek Shraya’s Instagram account may seem like ordinary selfies and snapshots of life. A closer inspection, however, will reveal portrayals of her process of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-celebration.

“My work often explores the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, diaspora, religion and family ... I make art because I am passionate about the creative process, about turning ideas into something tangible and complicating dominant narratives," said Shraya, a multi-disciplinary artist who is transgender.

Shraya recently debuted a photography project titled “Trisha,” in which she recreates scenes from old photographs of her mother.

“They are mysterious and magical puzzle pieces speaking to the life she had before I was born," said Shraya.

In the essay that accompanied the photographs, Shraya wrote, “I remember finding these photos of you three years ago and being astonished, even hurt, by your joyfulness, your playfulness. I wish I had known this side of you, before Canada, marriage and motherhood stripped it from you, and us.”

Shraya decided to recreate the photos of her mother to showcase their similarities and also to honor herself.

"In the past year, as I have been transitioning, I have especially noted our facial similarities," she added.

"Trisha" is not the first project Shraya used art as a tool for self expression. She said music provided an outlet for channeling her teenage angst, isolation and heartbreak. She then moved to writing, where she penned "God Loves Hair," a book about growing up genderqueer in Canada with immigrant parents.

"Writing this book opened me up as an artist more broadly," she explained, adding that film and poetry are also in her artistic repertoire.

Shraya, who came out publicly as transgender earlier this year, said she regrets not having the "strength and courage" to be her "whole self" earlier, but she made clear she's committed to bringing her full self to her art.