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Introducing SANKALP Art Contest’s Winners!

Sankalp means “oath,” or “pledge” in Hindi. Fifteen South Asian artists pledged to fight domestic violence in Project SANKALP. Today, we’re introducing you to the winners of SEWA’s second art contest.

The artists were challenged to create a piece that reflects domestic or intimate partner violence. For inspiration, they were provided with a few phrases:

Violence has become a culture.

Pledge to CHANGE the culture.

Silence will not PROTECT you.

Project SANKALP was divided into two art contests: one for those who identify as women, and one for those who identify as men. Judges then looked through the submissions and selected the top three from each category, which we’ll introduce to you now! You’ll be hearing directly from the artists on their works.


The First Contest

First Prize: Sanjukta Mitra — Draupadi

I will!
I will Rise…
I will hold all my fears and sorrows  …I will rise!
Deep inside ,I know I’m strong …above the fire, I will rise!
Hurt I am .. yet I will break the shackles of pain.
I will stop ruminating about the past and will fly with the wings of my inner strength.
I will!
I will unleash the “Draupadi” in me .. I will!
I will be a victor .. not a victim .. I will!

“Draupadi is the epitome of strength and she inspired me to paint hope. She was subjected to domestic violence but she made a comeback with her inner strength. We all have a Draupadi within ourselves… It’s just about unleashing it. In my painting you will see Draupadi’s inner strength (Krishna) symbolically painted as the wings (peacock feather).”

“About Draupadi – Draupadi also referred as Panchali  is the tragic heroine, one of the central characters and the common wife of the Pandavas in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. She is described to be the most beautiful woman of her time and was prophesied to bring a major change in the future.She was regarded as one of the most powerful ladies. She was subjected to domestic violence but with her inner strength (belief in Krishna), she not only made a strong comeback but set things on fire.”

– Sanjukta on Draupadi

About Sanjukta

Sanjukta Mitra is a Decision Sciences consultant by profession and an artist at heart. Art is her calling, her way of giving back and touching lives. She is extremely passionate about creating original art and particularly loves the expressive form of art. She lives in Minnesota and engages in coaching art aspirants as young as 5 years old all the way to 85 years old.


Second Prize (tied): Sindhu Gupta — Speak Up!

“This artwork depicts the message to stop the domestic violence. ‘Exploitation, suffering, and, as redressal, also her awareness of her situation with assertiveness and dignity.'”

– Sindhu on Speak Up!

About Sindhu

Painting is my passion. For me, it is neither a profession nor a hobby, it is a way of being.  It is a meditation and self-connection that gives me reason for a joyful living. Creating a piece of art and giving meaning to it gives me immense satisfaction and absolute peace. 

I live in Plymouth, MN and work as Senior Product Manager in US Bank. In the past, I have worked as an independent interior decorator in India before moving to the US. 

In my spare time, I love to volunteer for the community. I have created a variety of artwork during COVID-19 lockdown last year to help our community in fundraising. I am blessed to have supportive family and friends; they always encourage me and motivate me with new ideas. My association with Arts will continue because it simply makes me feel better. 

Sindhu also has an art gallery on Facebook. Click here to check it out.

Second Prize (tied): Rishika Yata — Bezubaan

“This sketch symbolizes a woman’s agony under domestic violence. My art illustrates that the woman wants to cry out for help, but is forced to be silent for the sake of her family, honor, and society.

Therefore, the mask depicts her covering up of her bruises because she is suppressed by cultural norms as it is a taboo to speak out on such issues. Not only is the woman affected, but her child is also seen in a state of shock and trauma. Lastly, the abusive husband’s shadow represents the demon within him.”

– Rishika on Bezubaan


About Rishika

My name is Rishika Yata. I am currently in my senior year of college and majoring in Business Administration. My goal is to be an entrepreneur in the future. Some of my hobbies are sketching, baking, binge-watching Netflix shows, reading self-help books, and photography.

Third Prize: Sohini Sarkar — Firewoman

I burn for what I was…

I burn, to be who I am…

I burn, to be who I want to be…

Melting away the shackles…

The fire in me creates and destroys;

All at the same time.

– A poem by Sohini


About Sohini

Having lived in four countries and multiple cities, I moved to the Twin cities in 2015. After holding a Master degree in Biotechnology and over a decade of experience in the Pharmaceutical industry, I decided to pursue a second Master degree in Regulatory Affairs specializing in Medical Devices from St. Cloud State University, MN. My work has given me an opportunity to merge science with innovation for the betterment of human life. 

I love to travel, learn about different cultures, explore new cuisines and speak four languages.  I believe there is no end to learning and thus I try to expand my learning curve by reading about varied topics. I also enjoy photography, writing poetry, interior designing and watching television. 

Social causes have always been a subject close to my heart. I have been associated with various volunteering initiatives with American Red Cross (MN, USA), Mississippi Park Connection (MN, USA), Twin Cities Pride (MN, USA), TADA-Teenagers Against Drug Abuse (Durban, South Africa), Green Army (Bangalore, India) and Center for Social Action (Bangalore, India).

The Second Contest

First Prize: Hrishikesh Shah — Woman’s Pain-demic

“Sketching these was very soul-touching, dedicated to all the amazing, strong women that we come across each day.

Wearing a beautiful smile but fighting life within, even though they might be going through numerous ordeals like irrational societal pressures, chauvinism, harassment, judgement, abuse, restrictions of freedom, domestic violence, loneliness, loss, depression!”

– Hrishikesh on Woman’s Pain-demic


About Hrishikesh

Hello dear friends, My name is Hrishikesh Shah. I am an IT Professional working in Minneapolis for the last 7 years but my soul is very heARTistic towards any form of creative ART. I am very passionate about sketching and painting which are an expression of my thoughts inspired from the day to day journey of observations, experiences of life. I am also very passionate about film making, photography, droneography, singing, writing scripts. Many of my friends also like to call me “Droneacharya,” as I love flying drones.

I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with many talented artists collaborating to create many different types of visual contents like Music Videos, Short Films, Fashion Videos. Dance Videos, Promos and Advertisements that have been featured across multiple media platforms and channels including Times of India, Aaj Tak, Music Today, MTV Rock USA, Pocket Films, Youtube, FB.

I am a very Live and Let Live kind of soul who constantly wants to contribute towards the awareness of issues in the society making a small effort to bring about some positive change and peace to our world. I have also worked with many non-profits giving back to the community in the form of arts, culture and awareness.

Please feel free to look me up and connect with me on Facebook (Hrishi Shah), Instagram (heartistic_soul), Youtube (Hrishi Shah Heartistic Soul) for some of my creative works. I want to thank SEWA for relentlessly working towards the betterment of society and community in so many different ways.

Second Prize: Bhupinder Singh Juneja — The Spiral of Abuse

“Any sort of domestic or sexual violence is not linear. It’s spiral. It goes on and on even after years… it’s there in your psyche. It doesn’t go away. The darker side symbolizes the traumatic experiences while the rainbow colors show that a person still has ability to convert the darkness into something better. Trauma is still there but in a different forms, colors and shapes. The spiral on head/mind symbolizes the on-going psychic damage.

I have used my fingers, tip of thumb, pencil and washable kid’s paint for this artwork. It is soothing for me to touch colors and paint. The texture and smell of colors  is intoxicating and meditative for me.”

– Bhupinder on The Spiral of Abuse


About Bhupinder

Bhupinder  spent 17 years in Industry in different roles, including a decade working as a Data Scientist and Lab Advocate with IBM SPSS R&D with key focus on proposing next-generation model visualizations for Big Data Analytics as well as provisioning data driven solutions for various business problems in Industry and Academia.

Currently he is a Graduate Instructor as well as an active Ph.D. student with research interests at the intersection of Supply Chain & Operations Management, and Bioinformatics & Computational Biology. As part of his ongoing Ph.D. research, he is exploring applicability of Big Data Driven Approaches towards enabling a Personalized medicine Health Care Supply Chain. Bhupi has been teaching SCO 2550 (Business Statistics)  since Fall 2017.

Broadly speaking, there are 3 Key Themes that define Bhupi:

  • Strong passion to transform Complicated into Easy.
  • Loves to Investigate, Teach and Mentor on how complicated and Next Generation Technologies that can deliver value towards individual’s wellbeing and wellbeing of society.
  • An ardent follower of “If You can’t explain it to your 2 year old then You don’t understand it Yourself”.


Thank You to our Artists!

These art contests are possible because of the talented and passionate artists in our community. Thank you for using your skills to support survivors and share perspectives on domestic and sexual violence!

Don’t forget to check out the honorable mentions below — every piece deserves to be seen!


Honorable Mentions

For resources on domestic violence, visit our Women’s Programs. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call our 24/7 crisis line at (952)-912-9100.

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