Vancouver visual artist and muralist Sandeep Johal says she is reclaiming her adolescence by reimagining her childhood bedroom with images of South Asian models in a new exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery.
Johal’s exhibition What if? is a freestanding recreation of the artist’s bedroom when she was growing up in Kelowna, British Columbia
It’s hot pink and, instead of influences from Western culture, is filled with photos of women she wished she had known as a teenager, such as suffragist Sophia Duleep Singh and India’s first female taxi driver Selvi.
“I was really looking for South Asian women who really showed a lot of resilience and persistence in situations that we would find really oppressive,” Johal said.
“Basically it’s looking back on my formative years and wishing these remarkable women gave me the confidence to feel capable of pursuing anything.”
WATCH | Sandeep Johal describes his reimagined teenage bedroom:
Johal said the bedroom was true to who she really was when she was a teenager. But, from teenage magazines to books she loved in the 1990s, the exhibit debunks traditional stereotypes of South Asian women, she said.
Posters for bands like the Spice Girls and Red Hot Chili Peppers have been overhauled.
“I created a poster-style textile and chose five South Asian women… to be the Spice Girls,” she said.
What if? is at the Surrey Art Gallery until December 11.