The artist & the prof
Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University
The artist and the professor, the mother and the wife: reflections on migration, resilience and hope in times of crisis
Whilst we might appear to have little in common, the COVID-19 lockdown has provided us with an opportunity to draw together our personal and professional experiences in order to reflect on issues of migration, resilience and hope in times of crisis.
Individually and through video conversations online, lockdown has given us the opportunity to explore our shared experiences as women, wives, (grand)mothers and survivors of hardship and domestic violence. From these conversations, we’ve produced a series of creative outputs (prose, drawings, body adornment, photography, video) which explore the ways in which our own and societal expectations of gendered and racialised roles and responsibilities have shaped our lives.
When we first started, we didn’t actually have a concrete plan as to how the project would evolve.
At first we wrote letters to each other by email. We talked about how we were finding the lockdown. About the things that were important to us. The things that make us think. Some of these initial exchanges are included as outputs from our collaboration, providing the context from which the creative pieces emerged.
Then we started to exchange prose and poems about how we saw ourselves and our place in the world. Once the similarities in our ways of thinking and writing about the world became clear – and it happened very quickly – the conversation became intense. Emails and images, WhatsApp messages and emoticons went back and forth, a flurry of exchanges and ideas. The interweaving of our personal and professional lives was reflected in the our poetry which we wove together and the artistic pieces that we co-produced which are available on our project website theartistandtheprof.art.blog
By sharing our experiences – often in very frank and explicit ways – we want to highlight the ways in which, as women, we can come together.
What we found
We have much more in common than we ever imagined! Through our exploration of key themes and issues relating to our own personal experiences and the broader focus of our professional work – migration and mobility, belonging and identity – we identified new points of connection that will make it possible to communicate with different (and wider) audiences in the future.
Ultimately, the project has shown us that we do not need to be constrained by the particular boxes and categories within which we find ourselves – and are put in by others.
This piece was co-created over the course of three days (14th – 16th July 2020) as the formal part of the project came to a conclusion. The piece was intended as a reflection on the nature of our collaboration and the ways in which our lives and ways of thinking are interwoven. One person provided the other with the last word of a sentence she had written and the other responded using the first word as the start of what she wanted to say. Neither of us had any idea of what had been written by the other until we read our words to one another. The synergies and connections between the lines reflect the synergies and connections that have developed between us as the project has evolved. It was a powerful and beautiful experience!
The collaboration with Heaven has been ACE! It resonated so deeply it’s mind blowing. During the process of the collaboration l found myself referring to l MIGRATED exhibition (my first solo EXHIBITION 2018) It’s an exhibition that has toured around Coventry. I see it as a migrating exhibition that will migrate around the world. Because my aspirations for it have been slow and stagnated at times. I’ve had moments of frustration. What this collaboration has done for me is it has brought more depth and value to the exhibition in my headspace, with it peace. I see it. Life is seasonal. There is a time to laugh cry, scream, sleep. Everything in its time. When we pace ourselves we will find the rhythm. Just like the grass effortlessly grows, the wind blows, the flowers bloom
In this collaboration, there was a great synergy, weaving of our lives. Which was a joy and pleasure to discover.
Themes that strongly came through where resilience, the deep call to survive, to live, no matter one’s geographical location, colour, tribe or creed. Deep calls unto deep.
The call to BE, to break down barriers, boxes, categories
‘no limit, no boundaries’
In a nutshell
This collaboration was
My name is Laura Nyahuye
‘I have no desire to fit in’.
No! I will not apologise
Does it offend you?
Don’t clip my wings
Don’t clip wings
I have no desire to fit in
Born to be free
Born to be me
Born to thrive not strive!
Don’t clip my wings
Born to be free
Born to be me
No desire to fit in
I am Me
For this l will not apologise