Art from Word to Your Motherland will be on display at Sol Collective until March 18. The exhibit seeks to embody and inspire new ways of thinking and highlights artist collaboration and interaction with their cultural background.
The multimedia showcase was well attended and several guests came from as far away as the Bay Area just to attend the event.
Sol Collective invited special guests to a pre-event for the opening of Word to Your Motherland. Sol Collective treated guests to the pre-event party with samosas and wine.
Before doors were opened to the public for the free event I asked Sembi a couple of questions.
When asked to describe Word to Your Motherland Sembi gave an elaborate answer saying, “Word to Your Motherland originally started last year. This is the second Word to Your Motherland, the first one was held in Oakland last summer. I was a visual artist in the Bay Area and then I took a trip to India and when I went to visit India, which is where my family is from, I ended up meeting a lot of people that were involved with hip-hop out there and I really had no idea that they listed to hip-hop. When I went out there I got the chance to meet a lot of graffiti artists, break dancers and MCs. So when I came back from India I was just so inspired by the hip-hop movement out there. When I came back I was actually approached by a gallery curator who asked if I was interested in having my first solo show.”
Sembi continued, “At that time I was full of inspiration. So I said yeah let’s do it and I decided that the show should be dedicated not just to my artwork but also towards shedding light on the hip-hop movement in India. I reached out to Mandeep Sethi who’s helping me curate the show. He’s an MC and I do a lot of work with spray paint and so together we sort of curated the art show and put together Word to Your Motherland which is basically just a show that transposes the culture of Indian people and their intersections with the hip-hop culture.”
Sembi’s enthusiasm showed as she spoke about her project and I could see her passion in her eyes. “A lot of the artwork that you see incorporates a lot of traditional Indian elements and then they all have like a hip-hop twist. I have a lot of fine art pieces and street art mural pieces so we really try to make it like a mix-media show with visual elements, audio elements and then some live performances. We have the art pieces and we have the video projection that shows the documentation of the hip-hop movement in India. What we wanted to do with this space was really just to transform it into a space that embodied the five elements of hip-hop so MCing, DJing, break dancing, graffiti and some say the fifth element is knowledge and that’s were Word to Your Motherland came from.”
The Berkeley native described the Word to Your Motherland logo saying, “My mom is from India and my dad is from Africa. So that’s how we came up with the logo.”
Spoken word performances and some break dancing also contributed to the evening’s entertainment.
Word to Your Motherland showcased an exhibit that most of the visitors that attended could relate to. At the heart of the exhibit was culture. Culture that separates us can also work to connect us and the exhibit showcases our cultural links. Part of this culture is hip-hop that as Sembi points out can be seen as a revolutionary movement because it brings people together across religions, caste and socioeconomic levels.
Sol Collective has hosted many hip-hop events over the years. They have hosted these type of events from local and national performers as well as international guests. Sol Collective has introduced international hip-hop artists such as Brazilian born Zuzuka Poderosa and Chilean Ana Tijoux.
Word to Your Motherland focused on the connections between India and Africa and the role of hip-hop in those areas. Photography, murals, digital artwork, projection showings and other visually stimulating art gracing the walls created a magnificent exhibit.
The Word to Your Motherland display guides guests through different elements of hip-hop culture that now reshape and revolutionize global culture and daily life throughout India and Africa and many other parts of the world.
Live performances were provided by several guests including Jagmeet Hoodini Singh, Gunjiv Baagi Singh, Salvin Chahal, Simarpreet WiseChild Singh, Mandeep Sethi, Ras Ceylon, El Indio, DJ Smokestack and others.
The event was a joyous gathering bringing people of several cultures together to share something we have in common, the love of art, music, poetry, dance and sharing our similarities under the hip-hop umbrella that continues to spread globally.