For the 2022 Teen Museum Studies program, high school participants were guided through a competitive application review process and chose St. Louis-based artist Sukanya Mani. Mani’s exhibition draws upon her extensive work with domestic abuse survivors and her experiences as a South Asian immigrant to shed light on the magnitude of domestic abuse on a local scale. Her work serves as a vehicle to tell the stories of the survivors with whom she interacts.
Mani’s site-specific installations play with material and mark-making techniques to encourage viewers to examine the issues of personal and collective safety from a new perspective. Sukanya transforms Tyvek®, watercolor paper, immigration documents and pamphlets for domestic abuse survivors into three-dimensional sculptures to signify hope and resilience. According to the artist, “I have used paper as a representation of legal safety. In the telling of stories within the domestic violence community, I found that having the right documents can often be the difference between freedom and continuing to live with abuse.” She additionally draws upon her Indian heritage by joining donated bangles together to represent a promise between local women to create a safe space for survivors. Sukanya Mani’s artwork serves as a call to action for her audience to volunteer, donate, and educate themselves and their communities through local organizations.
Sukanya Mani: Weight of Shadows is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Ezra Birman, Olivia Bussmann, Finn Kanak, Ava Lamb, Sarah Reifschneider, Lear Rose, Lila Summers, Sanai Todd, Frankie Williams, and Zaviera Wolfe with support from Brandon Barr, Teen and Adult Programs Manager.