Priyanka Paul is not your average Indian girl – Or is she? This 19–year-old talent is truly unafraid. She is an artist, poet and outspoken activist whose imagination and expression cannot be contained by the patriarchy. Through her art, she reclaims what it means to be a woman in India, both in face of traditional stereotypes as standards as well as the global sociopolitical climate.

Through her depictions of women, particularly in her series “Goddess” a set of works inspired by “Pantheon” a poem by Harnidh Kaur. She explores the aesthetic of goddesses from around the world and reimagined them as modern-day women, taking charge of their agency, expression, and divine energy. Thus, she does away with the archaic royal opulent vision of goddesses and makes them more relatable to the 21st-century woman.

Juxtaposing conventional and traditional with modern twists present today.

The modern goddesses she renders are spunky, beautiful and unashamed of their bodies. She makes sure to explore the spectrum of their skin tones and doesn’t adhere to the ‘fair and lovely’ approach to beauty. Each goddess has elements of her national heritage on her outfit in the form of jewellery or graphics. For example, the Indian Devi, Kaali wears a traditional large nose ring and a jewellery on her forehead, along with a traditional photo of Kaali Ma on her cropped T-shirt.

Greater usage of a taboo or stigmatized word serves to normalize it in language and reclaim its meaning in language. – Priyanka Paul

Priyanka’s activism and expression don’t stop at her explosive art but even takes form in the use of her language. Her Instagram account is called @Artwhoring, and when asked about it she reveals that greater usage of a taboo or stigmatized word serves to normalize it in language and reclaim its meaning in language. We find words such as ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ and many others – especially that pertaining to women are mindlessly and liberally thrown around in a derogatory fashion. Reclaiming these words to mean what women want in the contexts they see fit actually helps build a shared experience through words and the language they create.

Her written and artworks come together on the T-shirts she designs.  The prints have cartoon graphics of transgender women with the caption: “Tumhare paas माँ hai? Hamare paas Stigma hai’.

@giggling_monkey and @abhijin looking uber cool and are officially catalogue models for the stigमाँ t-shirts at !!!(THANKS YOU GUYSSS?) Still taking orders for them. Will ship thoda late however, because I have exams!! But I will reply to you sooner or later, sorrryyy. Let’s not forget why this tshirt was created. To know more about the Transgender Persons Bill 2016, check the link in my bio! #Stigma #Tshirts #Merch #TransBill2016 #LGBT #TumhaarePaasMaaHai #HumaarePaasStigmaHai #Trans #Transgender #Power #BlackAndWhite #Love #EqualRights #HumanRights #HumanRightsViolation #Art #Illustration #PublicArtProject #VoiceOut #Activism #Inequality #TheBigSquat

A post shared by Priyanka Paul (@artwhoring) on

Priyanka aims to draw attention to the injustice faced by the transgender community and highlight the stigma and oppression that they are met with.

She even speaks up and creates work around menstruation and normalizing it in art and in conversation with her. The artist does this by shooting a cartoon graphic of a woman with sanitary napkins in rows behind her and then captures shots of this visual between her legs whilst in the bathroom, among crushed newspaper in the trash can and finally on a stove.

Auntyyyy ji!!! Please it's okay!! No one's judging your sanitary napkins like you're judging them lol.??? Yesterday on my story when I asked y'all to help me with how to deal with parents who consider periods to be taboo and how to touch upon the subject with your parents, I was completely surprised by the number of people who still have to go through this. I think it would be right (and yet sad that I have to call this a privilege because its so normal) for me to say that I am 'privileged' to have been brought up by parents who've never believed in utter bullshit like the 'impurity of menstruation'. I was sat down and explained what and how periods work, what they are (with an actual textbook diagram). I've seen tumblr posts like "Hey Dad, can you pick up something for me from the supermarket?" "Yeah, sure, what?", "uhm, dad idk how to say this." "What is it?" "Sanitary napkins." *conversation followed by dad saying it's completely normal for him to buy his daughter sanitary napkins*Legit????? My dad has literally bought me everything from sanitary napkins to chaddis, we're only humans. Though I definitely do not expect everyone to share such cordial relationships with their parents, I hope we try to educate our parents about these issues. And if we can't, I hope we educate ourselves and are better parents to our children. Menstruation is natural. To say it's not, is to further alienate women/ perioders. Blood is normal. Periods are normal. Holding a sanitary napkin w/o a black packet/plastic bag (though that's completely your choice) is also normal. Made for Boondh (@boondhcups) #NormalizePeriods #NormalizeMenstruation #Periods #Menstruation #SanitaryNapkins #StopPeriodShaming #Natural #PeriodBlood #PeriodsDoNotMakeYouImpure #Illustration #Perioders #Women #Feminism #Taboo #PeriodTaboo #Educate #Art #Draw #Shame #BlackPackets #Desi #BrownGirl #Aunty #AuntyJi #Blasphemy #PopArt

A post shared by Priyanka Paul (@artwhoring) on

She even writes and creates illustrations on concepts such as gender fluidity. She explains: “Gender and self-expression, for me, is never static. It’s always in a flux, in transition. Gender to me is like art – abstract, it’s more about self-discovery than what really conforms to societal norms.”

Also Read: 17-year-old Priyanka Paul’s art puts the goddess back into women

Akansha is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.