ArtWallah Materials

Collection Overview

Date Range: 1999-2018
Geographical Coverage: California
Language(s): English (45), Uncategorized (98)
Number of Items: 143
Item Types: Photograph (45), Text (35), Flyer (21), Event Program (9), Press Release (5), Newspaper Clipping (4), Correspondence (3), Poster (2), Map (1), Audio (1), Moving Image (1), Uncategorized (16)
Donor(s): Shilpa Agarwal

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About the Collection

Collection Description
ArtWallah was founded in 1999 by a group of a dozen artists, academics, and activists to build a voice and a presence for the South Asian artistic community. ArtWallah’s mission was to foster and promote artistic expressions of the South Asian diasporic experience, and to create channels of communications between artists and diverse communities.

The long road to the first ArtWallah festival began with intense discussions on the concepts of South Asia, arts, and diaspora, a sharing of our own artistic works, and inspiration from other cultural festivals. During these many gatherings, ArtWallah’s first steering committee hammered out a vision for the festival – a progressive artistic forum that would showcase our searches for belonging, the shifting of identities, and the breaking and remaking of traditions forged by our ancestors’ migrations or our own. In short, ArtWallah was a festival that brought us back together.

The first ArtWallah was held in May 2000 at Art Share L.A., a small warehouse in the downtown Los Angeles arts district with thirty, mostly-local artists, our works grappling with the urgencies of cultural displacement and the formal aesthetic demands of making art. From its beginnings, ArtWallah showcased art across the diverse disciplines of dance, literature, film, music, spoken word, theater, and visual arts, and included a gallery showing, children’s programs, artistic vendors, food vendors, and a signature evening show, usually performed three nights in a row. ArtWallah also commissioned collaborative work from artists across disciplines, and offered workshops and opportunities for mentorship to support emerging artists. ArtWallah produced its first and only collaborative musical album, Awaz, in 2002.

With each successive year came new challenges and successes, and partnerships with venerable artistic venues across the city, including the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Barnsdall Art Park Foundation, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Highways Performance Space, and Downtown LA’s Arts District. ArtWallah attracted artists from throughout North America, the U.K., and beyond, and became a forum for both emerging and established artists, a unique coming together that retained the festival’s on-going commitment to its own artistic roots.

From its founding in 1999, ArtWallah was produced by the South Asian Artists’ Collective, the Indo-American Cultural Center, and successive steering committees consisting of members of these two organizations as well as independent artists. Later, in 2010, 2017, and 2018, ArtWallah was independently run by artists and organizers.

—Submitted by Shilpa Agarwal, a founder of ArtWallah

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Related Materials

Collection Themes: , Uncategorized (143)

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Administrative Information

Access & Use: Items in this SAADA collection are open for research. Items may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file, or any other media without express written consent from the copyright holder and the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). The user is responsible for all issues of copyright.

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