Threads Entwined, Stories Unfolded, Futures Imagined

Kajill Aujla

My memories of having my mother, grandmothers, aunts and sisters braid my hair are saturated with feelings of love and safety. The form of the braid, as seen in my work, protects, preserves, and cares for all that it holds – the stories within the folds, wrinkles, and threads of the fabrics. The braid embodies a vessel of strength and resiliency. It supports and carries itself in different forms and shapes as each strand is layered into the next. The attentiveness that goes into the braid and the action of the braiding is a reflection of the same care and resiliency the women in my family carry with them throughout all aspects of their lives. The braid connects us back to the body as it bridges our physical form to the plains of radical imagination.

The process of thinking through site and place echoes the process of adaptation. I am actively thinking through adaptation in my works because the process and necessity of adapting is something that immigrants, migrants, and refugees all come to experience when it comes to shifting geographic regions. When I am engaging with family history and narrative, the act of adaptation is continually present. Adaptation does not always feel like a choice; I have learned this through experience and the countless stories that have been shared with me from family members, particularly my parents’ account of moving to Canada. I find myself in flux with this notion of adaptation. I am actively dwelling in the space of negotiating what adaptation means for me and at what points do we push against forced or expected adaptation.

I am here, a being whose existence has been crafted by the threads from the stories of women before me. The story will continue through our physical and imagined world(s) with every pause, reflection and question. I am choosing to dwell in this time, in this space, in this story. Urgency is a fallacy that aligns itself with discontent. To dwell is to savour and I choose to savour the moments that have led me here. 

The journey of the work continues, perhaps too, in dimensions beyond us. 

Award Recipient

  • Renée Van Halm + Pietro Widmer Graduation Award for Visual Arts

Honourable Mention

  • Opus Art Supplies Graduation MFA

Kajill Aujla

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Kajill is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Mohkínstsis, Treaty 7 territory, or what we know to be Calgary, Alberta. Currently, her work explores the intersections of personhood, the Racial Imaginary, and familial narrative and histories as a Punjabi Sikh woman, first-generation born and raised in Canada. Through navigating what she has termed an ‘archive of scrap fabrics’ she attempts to find ways to thread together stories and memories of the past with the possibilities of where radical imagination can take us in the future.
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