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Sarah Khan visits Hamline Sustainability and Social Justice with her Amazing Adventures of Superhero Amrita Simla and Migrant Kitchens projects

posted Apr 3, 2017, 1:37 PM by Hamline University Sustainability Office   [ updated Apr 27, 2017, 6:21 PM ]
May 4th: 2017 9:45-11:10 Sundin Hall -- followed by a reception (convo hour in Sundin lobby -- lunch snacks catered by Cafe Racer!) and afternoon workshops with the Social Justice capstone and the Environmental Studies Feeding a Crowd class -- details on Sarah Khan and the two projects she'll discuss below:

Sarah K Khan Bio

Sarah K Khan spent over 20 years researching Asian and Middle Eastern nutrition, public health, medicine, and traditional ecological knowledge systems. She left academics to work as a freelance multimedia journalist-artist. Sarah’s work derives from academic, clinical and ethnographic field research that intersects food, migration, climate change, environmental degradation, gender and race discrimination.

            Sarah focuses on the migration of people (mainly women) and food. Sarah makes visible their often invisible lives via photography, cartography, film and writing. She partners with like-minded organizations and individuals to utilize food to provoke thought about environmental and social injustice towards people and plants. Women tend to be the carriers of vital cultural and ecological knowledge, such as foodways, farming and healing. Food and farming, as metaphors for culture, are not only about shared connections to family and community, but also about universal multisensory experiences of cultural survival.

Her self-driven arts training for the last twelve years includes: drawing in Mughal and Persian miniature techniques under Bashir Ahmed, Pakistan; paper- and bookmaking at Haystack Mountain School of Art, Maine; and with Mary Hark, Madison WI; printmaking intensives with Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., Gordo AL; photography mentoring from Faisal Abdu’Allah, Madison WI; collaborations with Meeta Mastani on handmade paper, block prints and textiles, Rajasthan India; and creating, most recently, a series of short films on Indian women farmers.

Sarah earned a BA in Middle Eastern history/Arabic (Smith College), two Masters (public health, nutrition, Columbia University) and a Ph.D. (plant sciences, NY Botanical Garden/ CUNY). She has received grants and fellowships to pursue her work. She is fluent in French, proficient in Urdu/Hindi and Arabic, and is based in NY, NY and Madison, WI.


Summary of the Indian Women Farmers Series

Sarah K Khan recently completed a Senior Research Fulbright Fellowship in India in 2015. The purpose was to create the Indian women farmers’ series. The first short film, entitled Bowing to No One, is complete. It is not a poverty film but an exploration of the life of Satyavati, an indigenous woman farmer from Central India. As part of the series, Sarah co-created illustrations of Indian women farmers in their environments (based on her photos) with a Delhi-based artist.

            She tells the story of farmers through the eyes of a seriously playful and playfully serious super shero, Amrita Simla (her FemiFesto). Shero Simla has the capacity to touch wider audiences via imaginative illustrations, and animated and documentary content. The Shero is neither over-sexualized nor over-covered. She demonstrates agency based on her own experience, intellect, and humanity. She exudes brown women confidence, athleticism, and power. Her photography and short film clips on women farmers and porters is being exhibited in several venues in the coming year at Madison Children’s’ Museum, and the Asia Arts Initiative in Philadelphia, PA.


Summary of Migrant Kitchen Series

In 2015, I launched Migrant Kitchen Series. The goal was to make invisible migrants visible, bear witness, and relay their stories via food. I produce articles, photography, detailed data-driven maps based on Queens NY census data, and a short film for each subject matter. I, and my creative editorial/research team, use each piece to tell and share stories about marginalized people or forgotten histories. For example, see Negro Motorists Travel Guide, and Peddlers, Police and Power—see all the films at: Films for the Migrant Kitchen Series.

            I have received several grants to continue this work from Buenas Obras Fund, Sillins Foundation, Asian Womens Giving Circle and the Asian American Writers Workshop (Fellow 2017). I

will be exhibiting multimedia work based on the Migrant Kitchens Series at the Queens Museum of Art in Nov-Dec 2017 in addition to three community events that highlight the migrants and their communities (Mexican, Colombian, Pakistani). Most recent, CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown reached out to consult for their Queens episode to air in Spring 2017. I introduced them to Mexican and Nigerian women who run food businesses. Bourdain also interviewed me about Queens over a Nigerian meal in Jamaica, Queens.