Even 15 years after 9/11, Sikhs in the US feel they are more likely to face profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American because of the two symbols of their distinct identity—beard and turban.
To dispel this misperception and spread awareness about the religion, a new Sikh art exhibit will be held in New York later this year to showcase the pride taken by the community in their religious and cultural practices.
England-based photographers Amit and Naroop will click portraits of Sikh Americans under “The Sikh Project” mounted by The Sikh Coalition. These portraits will be unveiled around the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
The Coalition is the largest Sikh American advocacy and community development organisation in the US and works towards the realisation of civil and human rights for all people, particularly Sikhs.
After their critically acclaimed exhibit in the UK, the two photographers, who are proud of their Sikh heritage, said they are “very excited” about their upcoming exhibition. “We are very excited! In the US, it will serve as an educational piece as well as an art project as the awareness of the Sikh identity is still misunderstood; so we are hoping it will have a wider impact,” the two photographers told IANS through email from New York.
The photography exhibit, which explores the beauty, style and symbolism of the Sikh articles of faith, will include both turbaned men and women and feature a combination of iconic Sikh Americans and a few selected winners.
Amit and Naroop, in partnership with the Sikh Coalition, are currently casting for additional photography candidates and are asking turbaned Sikh Americans to take part in this groundbreaking project. May 1 was the deadline for the entry.
According to Coalition’s executive director, Sapreet Kaur, “The goal with bringing this project to the United States is the opportunity to combat bigotry by sharing a positive narrative of Sikhs in America through portraits and the incredible stories behind them.”
The Coalition was founded by volunteers on the night of September 11, 2001, in response to a torrent of violent attacks against Sikh Americans throughout the US.
“An accompanying video interview of each subject will allow visitors of the exhibition to learn more about the way Sikhs are treated, both positively and negatively, and the courage it takes for the subjects to continue to wear their articles of faith,” they said.