As a child, I never worried about making mistakes. If my knees were scraped when playing outside, they healed, so I stood on the highest playground structure trying to look past the horizon. Growing up, I continued having this dauntless quality, always questioning how I could change the color of the sky or how I could solve a derivative in an unconventional way. For this reason, the liberating medium of acrylic paints became my favorite style of art. The 4 foot tall canvas allows a full range of motion as well as the ability to use brushes, knives, paper, and even my fingers to capture emotion when the paint is wet. And when the paint dries, I can keep adding layers. With this medium, I can be a child again, exploring and imagining ideas as crazy as I can make them.


This trait of dauntlessness has helped me accomplish goals and is still teaching me lessons of what it means to succeed. As a woman, a woman of color, and a woman of color with immigrant parents, it takes more effort to achieve the same as others. I have heard countless stories of the challenges that women of color face, and how they overcome them.


In my painting, I chose to encompass facial features of different women. But, the sparkling eyes and determined eyebrows of these women tell stories and challenge stereotypes. A few things I wanted to touch on in my painting are femininity, sports, clothing, career, and the reason why women of color are queens.


The flowers represent my own femininity and the challenges women have to face in a patriarchal society. If we speak up or act a certain way, we are criticized. We are not taught to fight and triumph. But, for me, being feminine means being able to fall down and still get up. Being a woman of color means to fight for what’s right.


The pattern of a soccer ball represents sports. I have seen so many female athletes criticized for being too muscular, or not feminine enough. Even though Serena Williams has won 23 grand slams, the reality of the news and modern world is that there will always be people criticizing her. It dawned on me that I would face challenges like she does, constantly having to prove myself in the face of stereotypes against women in sports.


Being a student at the University of Michigan has given me the opportunity to interact with so many other women of color. For all my peers who wear a hijab, it represents dignity, modesty, and faith, and they reserve the right to choose to wear one or not. Personally, I want the choice to be able to wear a bindi and be accepted in this community, because my choice is my choice, and it’s my responsibility to educate myself about the choices of others.


The blue collar and white collar at the bottom of the painting represent women of color in various careers. I chose engineering without knowing what I really wanted to do. Like every other brown kid, if you are good at math or science, this is the field for you. No, I’m just kidding. Anyways, when I tell people I study engineering, I get awe and wonder, but sometimes, there is doubt in them, and even in myself. How would I survive or gain respect in such a competitive and male dominated industry? Today, I’m still an engineer because I want to change the mindset of people that a woman of color with the goal of being a CEO or wiring NASA’s rocket ship, is unstoppable.


Finally, women of color are queens. We are fighting for what we deserve, and speaking up in spaces like this one. We shouldn’t need another world war to prove that women are capable in the workplace, or that they can thrive in sport. We need compassion, strength, and love, to shape the world into not a kingdom, but a Queen’dom.

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