My Phulkari

by Eknoor Thind

← Back to Showcase bachelor of fine arts, visual arts major

Third Year | Graduation year: 2025

The photographic installation My Phulkari consists of a 14” x 14” black-and-white photograph, framed in an embroidery hoop onto a phulkari — specifically one that was gifted to my mother during her wedding. Within the photograph is myself, dressed in traditional Punjabi clothing, standing amongst traffic in downtown Vancouver.

A phulkari is an embroidered dupatta that is created using a single stitch. Traditionally, when a daughter is born into a family, the mother and grandmother start embroidering the fabric with intricate patterns of flowers and geometrical shapes. Eventually, by the time of her wedding, they will complete the phulkari, which she will then wear. It was considered to be good luck to have a girl born into the family, because she was seen as the creator of future generations.

This work was inspired by many conversations and my grandmother’s recent trip to India. When she returned, she surprised my mother with garments from her wedding that she had found back at their home in Punjab. This brought on conversations that eventually led onto discussions about the unspoken struggles of children whose parents have immigrated. Children are expected to be unaware of the world around them, however in this situation, they are learning with their parents rather than from. Although they have crossed borders to bring better opportunities for their kids and to build a home, it unfortunately does not stop the border from making home at their front door. The world outside and the world at home become vastly different; two different cultures, two different languages, one very confused kid.

Even if balance were achieved internally, which eventually it can be, it still does not stop the feeling of always being out of place. Too westernized to be Indian, and too “exotic-looking” to be Canadian. Never being from there, but never really being from here either. Here I am asked constantly, “Where are you from?,” while there I am told, “You don’t sound like us.” It is a constant battle of feeling displaced. By bringing together the phulkari and the photograph, this installation seeks to express the mental state of carrying two vastly different cultures and lives within you. It speaks on the desire to hold onto cultural traditions, regardless of location.

My Phulkari

About the Artist

Eknoor Thind is a Punjabi-Canadian artist interested in pushing the boundaries as to what constitutes as a photograph. By the use of physical manipulation and sculptural components, she creates work that explores images through different narratives.

Through inspiration drawn from conversations, her focus is primarily around issues concerning second-generation immigrants, speaking upon the problems of alienation and displacement.

Thind’s main practices are illustration and photography, but she is not limited to the two. She likes to gain as much experience as possible on all sorts of material practices so she can utilize that knowledge and translate it into a different medium. Thind believes that if an artist is able to gain variety through their materials, it will give them the ability to think and view each medium in a brand new way.

Emily Carr Students are eligible to submit their work for consideration in the Showcase.

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