Sixth Annual IAAC 2009 Erasing Borders Exhibition of Contemporary
Indian Art of the Diaspora

Divya Mehra

Divya Mehra Divya Mehra

Artist Statement

My work uses humor to activate repressed impulses, disrupt convention, and explore power relations in terms of gender and sexuality, as well as racial and cultural identities. Within the videos, I often take the role of a harmless buffoon, strategically staging an awkward display of self-mockery to unearth issues of identity and to challenge the narrow views that frame such issues in cultural theory.

Humor is deployed to lure my audience into the work by creating a false sense of comfort; by making the object of mockery [me] personal and familiar, thus making the viewer accountable for their own absurdities, prejudices, and personal faults. My work draws from the pathetic, deeply personal, and unspoken intentions, judgments and one-liners derived from everyday experiences and transforms into sharp and 'not-so-easy-to-swallow' representations of the world.

My videos are an attempt to articulate my position; to question cultural meanings around constructed notions of 'Whiteness' and the 'Other', emphasizing the inherent but not so obvious hostility that exists between these identities. I am caught between two conflicting cultures; insisting that something is, what so clearly it is not. Through humor in one or more of its forms [slapstick, deadpan, camp and most definitely kitsch] my videos draw the viewer into a space of comic effect that I hope contradicts a far deeper and more affecting mental and emotional intent. By means of this discomfort I hope to bring about an awareness of misrepresentations and preconceived notions, all the while evoking amusement and embarrassment.


Divya Mehra is a multimedia artist who recently earned an MFA from Columbia University, New York. She obtained her BFA with Honors from the University of Manitoba's School of Art. In her practice she explores issues of cultural displacement and hybridization, deploying a humorous perspective in the execution of the works. Her work has been included in a number of exhibitions and screenings across North America.


  • Columbia University, School of the Arts :: New York, U.S.A
    MFA in Visual Arts :: 2008
  • University of Manitoba, School of Art :: Winnipeg, Canada
    BFA (Honors) in Visual Arts :: 2005

Teaching Experience

  • Columbia University, School of the Arts
    Lecturer, Basic Drawing :: Summer 2008
    Taught the course ‘Basic Drawing.’ Created syllabus, lectured and facilitated small group discussions; evaluated students on class participation and assignments
    Columbia University, School of the Arts
  • Teaching Assistant, Sculpture Fundamentals :: Fall 2007
    Assisted Professor Jon Kessler in his course ‘Sculpture Fundamentals.’ Reviewed all student proposals for work throughout semester; Planned and taught new media class to students incorporating performance, video, and sculpture

Related Experience

  • Kara Walker
    Studio Assistant :: Summer 2008
    Performed and assisted in video production for Walker’s upcoming body of work
  • Columbia University, School of the Arts
    Co-Host & Co-Producer, Straight to Da Auction House :: 2007 - 2008
    Created, directed, and edited online interview series for Columbia University’s School of the Arts website

Grants & Awards

  • Columbia University, Merit Scholarship :: 2007
  • Columbia University, Dean’s Fellowship :: 2007
  • Ellen Gelman, Endowed Fellowship :: 2007
  • Manitoba Arts Council, Grant :: 2007
  • Columbia University, Merit Scholarship :: 2006
  • Columbia University, Dean’s Fellowship :: 2006
  • Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest, Endowed Scholarship :: 2006
  • Manitoba Arts Council, Grant :: 2006
  • National Film Board of Canada, Reel Diversity Film Grant :: 2005

Select Bibliography

  • Abbas Akhavan and Marina Roy
    Helen’s Cookbook
    Hele Pitt Gallery summer catalogue :: 2007
  • J.J. Kegan McFadden
    Divya Mehra Video Works 2002-2007
    Curatorial Essay :: 2007
  • Rhonda Bruchanski
    CBC Artspots
    Interview on & CBC Television :: November 2006

Select Exhibitions

  • Dream House, Plug In Ica
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2009
  • SAWCC Art Auction Benefit, Tamarind Gallery
    New York, U.S.A., Photography :: 2008
  • WNDX Festival of Film and Video Art, Cinematheque
    Winnipeg, Canada., Video :: 2008
  • Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film, Durham Art Gallery
    Durham, Canada, Video :: 2008
  • The Planners Network Conference, Ukrainian Labour Temple
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2008
  • The New Academy, Robert Lehman Art Center
    North Andover, U.S.A., Video :: 2008
  • Videos De Femmes Dans Le Parc, GIV
    Montreal, Canada, Video :: 2008
  • MFA Thesis Exhibition, Fisher Landau Center For Art
    New York, U.S.A., Video :: 2008
  • Images Festival, Joseph Workman Theatre
    Toronto, Canada, Video :: 2008
  • The Leisure Suite, LeRoy Neiman Gallery
    New York, U.S.A, Photography :: 2008
  • Camera Free Screening, Cinematheque
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2008
  • Posers, Eastern Edge
    St.John’s, Canada, Video :: 2008
  • Border Crossings: Biennial Fundraiser, Hotel Fort Garry
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography :: 2008
  • 21, Dunlop Art Gallery
    Regina, Canada, Video :: 2007
  • 21, Paved Arts
    Saskatoon, Canada, Video :: 2007
  • 1st Year MFA Exhibition, Wallach Art Gallery
    New York, U.S.A, Video :: 2007
  • 21, A Space
    Toronto, Canada, Video :: 2007
  • Divya Mehra Video Works 2002-2007, Plug In Ica
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2007
  • In The Blink of An Eye, Winnipeg Art Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, WAG Media Arts Commissioning Project :: 2007
  • New Prairie Cinema, Cinematheque
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2007
  • Videos De Femmes Dans Le Parc, GIV
    Montreal, Canada, Video :: 2006
  • Photophobia 8, Art Gallery of Hamilton
    Hamilton, Canada, Video :: 2006
  • Divya Mehra|Video Works 2002-2006,Colorschool, University of British Columbia
    Vancouver, Canada, Video :: 2006
  • Youth Group Show, Fifth Parallel Gallery
    Regina, Canada, Photography, Video :: 2005
  • Annual Members Show, Platform Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography :: 2005
  • Bollywood Chaat, Design Exchange
    Toronto, Canada, Video :: 2005
  • Taxi Driver, Platform Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, Performance :: 2005
  • Winnipeg Folk Fest, Birds Hill Park
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2005
  • The Summer Show, Cream Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography :: 2005
  • The Retirement Show, Outworks Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography, Video, Painting :: 2005
  • Sugar and Splice, Cinematheque
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2005
  • FireWire, Cinematheque
    Winnipeg, Canada, Video :: 2005
  • P.S., aceartinc
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography and Video :: 2005
  • Thesis Show, Gallery 1.1.1
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography :: 2005
  • Just Filling Space, Outworks Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography and Video :: 2005
  • One Month Free Rent, Label Gallery
    Winnipeg, Canada, Photography :: 2005

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