Monica Jahan Bose
Monica Jahan Bose is a Bangladeshi-American artist, lawyer, and activist. Her work includes painting, drawing, printmaking, installation, sculpture, and performance, as well as advocacy on women’s issues and the environment. Born in Britain, she has also lived in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Japan, and France, and the US. Her heritage is both Hindu (father’s side) and Muslim (mother’s side). She studied art at Wesleyan University and Santiniketan, India and has a law degree from Columbia University. She has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums in the US and internationally, including in Bangladesh, France, Japan and India. She now lives and works in Washington DC, spending part of the year working in Bangladesh. She serves on the board of Samhati, a US-based Bangladeshi women’s organization that creates small projects focused on ecology and literacy to empower poor women in Bangladesh. She is also on the board of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective.
In her work, Monica uses the sari, sari blouse, and other garments as metaphors for the female body and spirit, investigating gender, identity, desire, and women’s role as carriers of tradition. She also uses Bengali script as a political act affirming multilingualism and universal literacy. Her work addresses her own multi-faceted identity, religious fundamentalism, gender, sexuality, and climate change.
She has been working on literacy and health projects with the women of Katakhali for many years and wanted to collaborate with them on a special project to mark their victory in learning to read and write. Storytelling with Saris uses the sari as an art material, a story board, and a garment, merging art and advocacy to highlight the empowerment of women and their resilience in addressing climate change.