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"An individual has not started living until he can RISE above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was not always involved in human rights. In fact for the longest time, growing up, I didn't even know what the words meant. But I do have crystal-clear pools of memory of when I was 10 of inviting my 'jamadhar' (sweeper's) 2 year old daughter to cook with me on a mud stove in the garden, much to the horror of my parents. I didn't seem to mind her dirty, smelly rags or her matted hair and runny nose. We ate and laughed together, I shampooed her hair, dressed her in a clean kurta and sent her back to her roadside hut. When I saw her the next day, the clothes were filthy, her hair was matted again but she had an enormous grin on her face - my first lesson in human rights. I had no right to expect her to change immediately nor did I have a right to make her be like me.

As most people will confess, human rights as we know it, is something that evolves gradually with time and experience, something that channels us in a specific direction because of incidents lived and unlived. It's something that empowers our whole being and pushes us to act or react in whatever way we can. When our young family experienced blatant racism in the 70's in Beaconsfield, I was astonished when a policeman said to me "You have a right to live here like everyone else". Do I really ? That thought and its serious implication somehow never occurred to me at the time and I pondered it for many years after. See Gazette article on this album."When Racism Strikes".

The paintings in this album, completed across the years, happened because I was either angry, frustrated, elated, sad, confused or felt helpless - and by sitting for hours before my canvas, brush in hand, I hoped to get a better understanding of the issues involved.

Sometimes the technique worked and at other times, it didn't quite have the desired effect. But something did happen during the process. It provided a kind of solace while giving me the strength to confront my own profound emotions and so continue the search for some kind of truth.

Much later in life, when I started to read about figures like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, Thérèse Casgrain, Obama, Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa, Stephen Lewis among others, and how committed they were to their causes, I wanted to be even in minutiae, like them all.

Gradually I learned that by sharing my paintings with others, people were likely to open up, express their opinions and criticisms and we were able to enter into a healthy dialogue, which is so crucial to understanding. There were those of you who cried on seeing a particular work, others who said it lit up their lives, some who were inspired enough to go out and change the world. After growing up in a society that regarded art as pretty useless, in all humility, could I ask for more.

These days, human rights violations upset me as do injustices of all kinds, especially to women and children, and not close to home. There is so much happening around us that needs to be addressed - the rape cases in India, Algeria, Mali, Newtown, the story of Malala Yousafzi, global warming, the AIDS orphans in Africa and most recently, the horror of the ISIS abuses. I don't like my limitations but know that even caring a little means mountains more than not caring at all. So I keep plodding on, brush or pen in hand.

You have heard of 'The Stendhal Syndrome'- the condition of being dangerously overwhelmed (dizziness, sweating, palpitations)by beauty in a work of art. It can happen to any of us, further proof that art does indeed have some magical power, both for the creator and the viewer. Wouldn't it be transformational if art could replace those long-gun rifles in the US and Canada, perhaps there might still be hope for us all on the horizon.

Civilization has known of the magic of art from the time of the Stone Age yet no one can quantify it. We talk about it in abstract terms, mould it in our imagination, feel its emotional, healing power and allow it to simmer in recesses of our body and mind. Therein lies its majesty, its wonder, its magnificence.

In June 2013 & 2014 I participated in a CREATIVITY & ACTIVISM symposium at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY with women from North America well-known for their commitment in the field. Just listening to the fire in their speech and feeling the weight of their compassion was enough to turn the engines.

December 2013: Amnistie Internationale featured the image "Women of the World Unite-2011" for their greeting card which went to female prisons & other institutions globally.

In March 2014 here in Quebec, we faced a controversial election. Premier Pauline Marois threatened to enforce the infamous Charter of Values, which banned the hijab, kippah & turban in places serving the public. To me, this was racist and took away our fundamental freedom. As usual, women were the first to suffer with many attacked physically and verbally on our streets. April 10, 2014: "Ma Montréal" with letter published in the Montreal Gazette.

ELAN, the English Language Arts Network interviewed 10 artists chosen to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Click here to read

June 2014: "Crescendo" & "Women of the World Unite" accepted for exhibit by the Global Fund for Women & the International Museum of Women. Click here to read

On September 27, 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in Winnipeg, a giant step for Canada. The theme throughout is darkness and light. Lots of darkness but also lots of light flooding the cracks, illuminating crevices where once only spiders dwelled and honoring not just famous heroes, but ordinary people who have taken extraordinary steps in the fight for human rights and for human dignity. To quote David Fleming "Human rights and the widespread denial of human rights is the most important subject in the world. At our peril, we close our eyes to human rights abuses." I hope to visit this museum one day to be inspired though I know I'll have to stack up on blank canvases on my return.

In June 2015, the Living Kindness Foundation in NY honored me with a lifetime achievement award for my work as an art activist with a ceremony that took place on June 5, 2015 at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Somehow "lifetime" implies that my work is over.... which is not the case.... humbled by the recognition, I am grateful and determined to continue what I feel called to do.

Montreal - September 27, 2015