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The School of Fine Art Student Association Votes to Name the SOA Student Endowment Fund

March 21, 2024 — 

In recognition of Divya Mehra [BFA’05], contemporary visual artist and distinguished alumna, the current board of the School of Fine Art Student Association (SOFASA) has voted in favour of renaming the Student Endowment Fund the Kamal and Sudha Mehra Student Endowment Fund. This renaming pays tribute to Divya Mehra’s parents, whose unwavering support has been instrumental in her artistic journey. Furthermore, the President’s Office has demonstrated its support for this initiative by contributing $15,000 to the fund. These funds will be directed towards supporting students engaged in projects that challenge societal notions of racism, aligning with Divya Mehra’s commitment to addressing pressing social issues through art.

The Kamal and Sudha Mehra Student Endowment Fund is a cornerstone resource within the School of Art, and Divya Mehra was pivotal in establishing this endowment as SOFASA President in 2003-2004. The Fund is sustained by contributions from students as part of their annual fees. It serves as a vital platform for supporting diverse student-led initiatives and empowering emerging artists to realize their creative visions.

Students are encouraged to apply for funding across three main categories: financial support for creative projects, facilitating visits by esteemed artists and scholars, and covering travel expenses for exhibitions or scholarly conferences. Crucially, the students make decisions regarding fund allocation, ensuring resources are directed where they are most needed and impactful.

An exciting addition to the Kamal and Sudha Mehra Student Endowment Fund is a new category inviting students to submit proposals for projects addressing issues of diversity and racism. Selected works will have the opportunity to be showcased in an exhibition space at the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU), amplifying critical conversations and providing a platform for artists who push boundaries and spark essential discussions.

Divya Mehra’s own artistic journey is a testament to the power of art. Her work has been highlighted in exhibitions, commissions, and collections nationally and internationally, including at Night Gallery, MoMA PS1, and the National Gallery of Canada. Her work has been widely disseminated in the press, with features in the New York Times, Times of India, and CBC Ideas.

In 2022, Mehra won the Sobey Art Award, the most esteemed contemporary art prize in the country. The award’s committee noted that “[…] Mehra’s practice extends beyond established constructs of art. Her approach is defined by its sharp wit, disarmingly playful allure, and attentiveness to language and aesthetics. Her recent explorations turn towards issues of repatriation, ownership, and modes of cultural consumption that fundamentally implicate institutions and their publics.”

As an active member of the local arts community, Mehra served as a board member from 2010 to 2016 at Plug In ICA. She also served as a Board Member for WNDX Festival of Moving Image (2011-2015), and programmer of window winnipeg (2016-2017). In 2020, Mehra co-founded TakeHome BIPOC Arts House, Winnipeg’s first BIPOC-led artist-run center. In 2021, she established a BIPOC-focused endowment at the Winnipeg Foundation geared toward culinary students at Red River College in honour of her parents and their family-run restaurant.

Renaming the endowment to Kamal and Sudha Mehra Student Endowment Fund is an overdue acknowledgement of Divya Mehra’s artistic contributions. Our hope is that the funds in this endowment lead to future generations of artists and scholars engaged in anti-racism and anti-oppression, and nurture a vibrant, inclusive community.


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