Artist Sukanya Mani Raises Awareness About Domestic Abuse

October 25, 2022

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to a close, but St. Louis-based interdisciplinary artist Sukanya Mani is ensuring this vital conversation remains top of mind beyond the month of October. Mani’s current exhibition, Weight of Shadows, can be experienced at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis through February 12 and is part of a larger awareness campaign titled The Beside Between Beyond Project.

This community-based, research-driven project seeks to raise awareness about domestic abuse, with a focus on immigrant and refugee populations who face specific cultural, legal, and social barriers. Through her extensive research, Mani connects with victims and survivors as well as the people who work within the community, such as social workers and translators.

While her work is informed by the information entrusted to her by domestic violence survivors, Mani is careful to honor their privacy by creating work that is abstractions of stories and only told with their permission.

“It can be an empowering experience for somebody to see their story told respectively,” Mani said. “They hope part of their story inspires someone else to walk out of that situation.”

The materials Mani chooses to use, such as paper, play an important role in her work. “The correct piece of paper means being able to get out of a situation,” she explained. “A passport or an immigration document can be used by the abuser to hold power over someone else.”

While the project began two years ago, the artist feels like this is only the beginning. People from communities across the United States have reached out to share their stories. Mani plans for the project to grow, organizing exhibitions in other cities with work that reflects the stories from those communities.

In getting her message out to as many people as possible, Mani hopes to involve individuals from different backgrounds and industries in an effort to work towards collaborative solutions and expanded resources for those experiencing domestic violence and the trauma is causes.

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis is a proud supporter of Sukanya Mani’s work. Learn more about The Beside Between Beyond Project at her website.