In February 2020, I was very fortunate to participate in a textiles tour of Northern India. We visited many towns and villages where textiles were produced by hand. We had an intimate look at these villages and their natural dyeing, leather craft, embroidery and block printing. Our tour leader told us three things about taking photos of people: always ask for approval before taking pictures, keep the location of the photo private, and never show women's faces in any public forum. When asked why, she told us that women face abuse at home and in their villages when their images are exposed to the public. I wondered how to find a way to honour these women carrying out their daily activities in a way that showed their beauty, warmth and industry without exposing them to harm. On the tour we visited Kumartali, a small village well known for handcrafting Murti (a general term for an image, statue or idol or mortal in Hindu culture). I was so inspired by the artisans creating Murti in their dark, tiny studios, hidden on the narrow, winding streets of Kumartali. Many of the statues were still being constructed and yet to be painted. That same day we visited the Kolkata flower market which was also incredibly awe inspiring. Some of the photos included in my project show women from the flower market and I wanted to showcase floral elements in my work as an homage to them. Back in Vancouver, it became an obsession to find a way to celebrate these women I'd captured. It was then it occurred to me to hide their faces with the Murti faces to enable me to show these women in their working lives in a way that protects them.

I am proud to present my project “Hidden Beauty” * Women of India.