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Educated Indentured Servant

Lilaben Leher2013

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

ARTIST STATEMENT

For many years I have been observing and discussing Indian American identity with my friends and family, including our interactions with non-Indians and our assimilation with our environment. New problems arrive with new waves of immigrants. The problem of an indentured service is not new. However, the H-1B visa puts a new twist on the matter. Highly educated workers in fields that are high in demand work long hours for low wages without hope of a pay increase. Many times, they are doing the work of two or three people.

In my painting, "Educated Indentured Servant," the immigrant is portrayed like as animal pulling the cart while the carrot/green card is dangling in front of him. His biggest hope to obtain a green card that will set him on his path to citizenship. The big corporations dangle the green card like a carrot. U.S.-born workers climb the hill like in a bullish market during prosperous times, while H-1B visa holders remain on a flat line surface. These visa holders are here on a limited time period of three years with one renewal. If they are let go, they must immediately return to their country of origin. Another scenario that has played out numerous times is the visa holder goes to another corporation thus resetting their time clock in the application process for the green card.

My recent work has an Indian theme to it but executed in a Western painting style. Previously, I worked strictly in traditional medium but now have swung to the other side of pendulum by working strictly in digital medium excluding the sketch stage. Often I am drawn to traditional stories within the Hindu faith and illustrating them from a western perspective.

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LILABEN LEHER was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood and attended a Roman Catholic school while being a staunch follower of Hinduism. Lilaben lives in Chicago with her two children, husband and mother-in-law. She currently is teaching traditional and digital drawing courses part-time at the college level and freelancing in graphic design.

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Details

  • Title: Educated Indentured Servant
  • Creator: Lilaben Leher
  • Date: 2013
  • Physical Dimensions: 72" x 32"
  • Medium: digital illustration

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