SALVE Issue 1

Page 1




Ashna Thaya & Rose Ghaedi Cover Picture:

Sharan Guru Layout Designer

Giuliana Gilio

Welcome to SALVE’s first issue!



Many communities of colour have been focused on survival for so long that we have come to collectively view creative endeavors as irrelevant or unnecessary. While it is true that being able to engage in the creative process is, in many ways, a privilege, it is also something we have always done and must continue to do. The work of creators of colour is inherently imbued with culture and beauty that has been denied representation in the mainstream for too long. Colonization and capitalism have positioned our work as lesser, as unskilled, even hostile. SALVE demonstrates our ability to be vulnerable, dynamic, fun, and brilliant. From the beginning, SALVE’s purpose has been to attract, collect, and showcase the incredible artistic and creative power that people of colour are capable of. This issue contains photography, art, and writing that far surpasses any expectations I had when dreaming up this publication. I am most inspired by the incredible women of colour that comprise the bulk of SALVE. I am who I am today because of my own exposure to powerful, confident, and unapologetic women of colour. My hope for SALVE is that it might continue the cycle of encouragement and empowerment that lead to its creation. We are always in need of more art and writing that validate our intersectional experiences and open the door to new ones. As we continue to learn from and empower one another in the face of a waning racist patriarchy, our capacity to connect and create tangible change grows. SALVE is only one example of our ability to do so, with grace, confidence, and humor. Even the art and writing we make outside the context of our oppression is made more remarkable simply in the context of our rich identities. Thank you to Western University’s Arts and Humanities Student Council for recognizing the need for a space like SALVE, and my beautiful Co-Editor Rose for her drive and innate editorial talent that has made this publication possible. I am so proud of the work that went into this project, and am so grateful for the artists, authors, and friends that are a part of it.

Love, Ashna



An Epistemology on Aquifers, and all things related — Jindi Zhang


Citation — Hadiyyah Kuma

Page 8

My Soup From the Dead Hive Armin Farhang


Their Fine Proposition — Asha Sivarajah

EDITORIAL Page 28 Page 12




Shana Li

The Dining Table — Akshi Chadha


DEX Page 17

Dark, Deluxe & Definite Sharan Guru


As the Disco Ball Taunts the Ceiling’s Dark

Page 30

Wandering Egypt

— Hadiyyah Kuma

Maryam Refai


sulfur scrapes the belly hungry Page 36

— Jindi Zhang



An Epistemology on Aquifers, and all things related — Jindi Zhang

Groundwater is asked to fill up the vacuous spaces. Fluid in the way it always knows how to take up the least space and the most space. Its simplicity lies in the way it prefers the path of least resistance. Some may call it anti-feminist, the way she does not scale mountains but trickles down them instead. Others will ask, in what ways her body serves as a site of resistance if she is merely being everything she is allowed to be. ……… In third grade, I bought rubber geckos from Dollar General, cupped them in the shady cove of my palms and ran around giving my peers a peek of my “live” pet and then whisked it away before they would see the manufactured rubber edges. I was strongwilled, rambunctious, cocky—brimming with a pride and swagger my mother had painstakingly nurtured and protected. I traded bubble gum for Pokémon cards. I put Ziploc bags over my head—who doesn’t need astronaut helmets if class is a distant oxygen-less galaxy? I played in the boys-only soccer games, swallowed aluminum foil to impress them after, and sharpened sticks on the asphalt to make spears. I was frequently sentenced to miss recess for bad behavior in the classroom—told to stand in the back of my sister’s first grade class for the duration instead. My Pokémon card collection got taken away. My teacher told me she wouldn’t recommend me for the gifted program if I continued this behavior. My teacher, a white woman in her 60s, told my mother that I loved being the center of attention— “they really like the sound of their own voice.” ……… I have this distinct nightmare where five mattresses are stacked on top of me, and I am straining to break free. Each time I try, all my limbs are bound. The weight is less parts painful, more parts suffocating. I am pushing, straining, but the weight is stubborn, it holds me in place. ……… In 9th grade, I sat in my bedroom and practiced speaking at louder volumes. “HELLO how’s your day?” I’d rehearse, determined to push more volume into the “hello”. I reasoned that if I spoke at a louder register to begin with, I would be able to escape the impossible place of starting a conversation too softly, and then being bound to that low-register, submissive, quiet-Asian pitch for the rest of the exchange.


At my first fast-food joint job, during the monthly review, my white boss told me I needed to speak louder and “get out of my shell”. ……… In a room full of faces that look different from mine, my voice loses itself in the desert cracks. A martyr by their decision—my voice dries up so theirs can speak with ease. In these moments, my chest feels angry. I am simultaneously jumping on the mattresses and lying underneath—each bounce is a breathless curse, an accusatory why can’t you just, a torrent of blame doused on the self—3 feet underneath. I am angry at the voiceless, I am angry at me. ……… People find it disrespectful when they can’t hear you. When they must crane their necks to hear into the cracks, they simply yell: “what!”, “can you speak up!”, and “I literally can’t hear you”. They peer into the fissures and reminisce about the once brimming aquifers. ……… Miles beneath the surface, they await. …… Suddenly, I am in third grade. I am learning to raise my hand. I am learning to stand in the back of a first-grade classroom. I am learning shame. I am learning silence. ……… And then: I am groundwater. I am running mindlessly. I am quenching dry earth, I am a deep thunderous roar, a river post-rainfall. I am the tributaries rushing inland, I am everything and nothing. ……… I am speaking. Are you listening?


My Soup From the Dead Hive

Vithusayni Paramanathan @heyitsvithu Mahnoor Qureshi @mizzqurqur 8

Armin Farhang @armin.edition — Art Direction and Styling

Ijlal Hossain @ijlalhossain Nishtha Paryani @nishthaparyani Simran Shetty @simranxs


Marcus Alexandre Tezinde @marcus_t.exe 10

Citation — Hadiyyah Kuma

Ok time out

I recommend

You check me

On your knees

Every meter I walk A bread and butter More famous than My grandfather’s

Now! On your knees

Which is a low standard

He says to me

But subliminal

So it sounds like

Since really, he was Famous for cricket

But all that’s just

Some silly sport

Damn you I like peppah

Sun-dried, sun-fried

Not to be confused with the pig

Paddock afternoon

Not to be confused

Since he recalled his

With an exotic version

Arm hair frying in the

Of masochism

Plain heat like phoulourie

A whirl! Sizzle: And then I’m born with a

You’d sound better with ice in your mouth

Everyday vitriol

I love the word, but not what it does

Mouth? I know such things

To people I love

As tongue but silly me

Like I Carib-been

I never anticipate

An understanding

The narrow hole inside which

Dodging bright blue

The stutter that takes me to the bathroom

Real estate people in vests

The damage that takes me to the masjid

And their bluer “Investments”

The story that takes me to

I’m tired of defending

The bed and like hollering

My history’s compilation

Becomes the fur of my upper lip

I know it’s complicated but

Waxed and rebuilt

Isn’t that just English?

Like the flesh we call softly, kin

Broken, colonial, Other variations go Like I sweat in silk I swear in it By it and around I’m publishing a new idiom

11 11


— Shana Li 12




Their Fine Proposition — Asha Sivarajah

Amidst their fine machinations, a conceptualized cure resides solely in the creation of even more streamlined engines.

Because fodder feeds our festering fascination with self-regulation, immortality assured.

And when the tongue couldn’t taste,

they reassembled the palate.

And if the earth stops spinning, we’ll chase the sun.

But when cyanide dribbles down cracked blue lips,

we’ll employ ours to pray

contamination hysteria away.

And if thickets go ablaze

we’ll gladly close our eyes, and await their reconfiguration of a most exquisite machination.


Dark, Deluxe & Definite

— Sharan Guru 17


Art Direction and Styling by Sharan Guru, @sharanguru Models: @ginasiva @pennyill92 @venadevii @annatheamazonian @_kenya94

@ebonicurlsblog @kulapadi @shesmocha_ @mstusaa @tharmigavijayasri

@shithathomas1 @breebeexox @baldblackbaddie

For our gaze only and to change yours

When depicting and centralizing racialized bodies, one must contend with the history of violence through exclusion, exploitation and distortion of these bodies through images of the past. Phu (2019) further states that it is essential to recognize how these reproduced images carry oppressive ideas and actively work to restory and redress that (p.183). For this shoot I wanted to position these bodies to be the focus, uplifted and viewed in a definite state as beings that can also have power, status and existence. The colors were to be bright or bold; everything from the fits to the jewellery to their poses were chosen to fit these themes of visibility and empowerment. In this shot, I positioned both bodies intimately to capture a united, resisting and loving stance between both brown and black bodies. This shot was from the classy set, and the subjects were styled in Euro-professional attire while using cultural jewellery to include hints of anti colonial fashion statements. The subjects’ striking gazes express the definite absoluteness of their bodies for now and for the future.


Owning oneself

Owning oneself, mind, body and spirit through imagery is resistance. Ferber (2007) discusses how disparities within media specifically reproduce repetitive tropes around black bodies and violence and danger. This set included the model Kumar who posed sporadically and took up space by placing his body either behind or around the other model. This set attempted to break these reproduced stereotypes, by specifically showcasing this body from a positive lens. Black men are not to be consumed and confused into a commodity that can be controlled, disciplined and exploited by White men. Positioning these bodies in these spaces with other racialized bodies is vital in changing the narrative about dark skin men and their ongoing battle with colorism in all parts of their lives



Decolonizing what “classy” means

Although public images and public art, won’t be enough to transform and shift cultural views and policies on their own, they are still an essential tool that can speak volumes without actually speaking it at times, especially in public spaces. Christine Smith (2015) further explains the ways in which art has the potential to disrupt, and allow engagement and debate around important societal ideas. Art as a tool can allow for these important discussions to happen, but without the visual language to express different views, such discussions can become difficult. Going back to Smith, (2015) it is important to note how public art challenges and dismantles many unequal social factors that may otherwise have been overlooked (p. 39). This is why making this art accessible through Instagram was important to this project, because online platforms can engage with many types of identities and bodies who may not have been exposed to these ideas before viewing it.





This set was vital in terms of color, loudness and giving viewers an image that could potentially be conceptualized into other forms of media (television shows and cartoons). I wanted this photo to pop with color and showcase different tones that rich melanin bodies are not usually exhibited in. This set of photos was an attempt at “bending,� which Thomas and Stornaiuolo (2016) explain as a version of restorying that uses existing text and concepts for the purposes of activism and pleasure (p. 321). This approach can be seen more evidently in the bending and rewriting of characters in classic and popular movies, shows, and books. An example we can use to understand bending is the Harry Potter series. While young readers may have their own ideas and perspectives of the story in their mind when they imagine different characters, the connections made from the text appear differently through social media globally, since fan bases in pockets of the world would be imagining it from within their own specific environments, circumstances, and bodies (Thomas and Stornaiuolo, 2016). This is why I decided to call this set my Dark and Daring Power Puff Girls, because they were exactly how I imagined the original characters growing up.


Rewriting Fair and Lovely

Restorying our media and visual imagery is vital for our future and the culture we create. Thomas and Stornaiuolo (2016) discuss restorying identity and using it as a tool that creates space to challenge, rewrite and overwrite the existing tropes of representation(p. 321). Culture is ever changing, and unlearning and relearning these identities through an anti-colonial lens is a transformative practice.



— Akshi Chadha



It’s becoming like feathered jewelry

What was Van Gogh thinking

this dead albatross around my neck

when he painted the ocean as the sky and put ten fireflies out on a swim?

it’s an omen some say

Maybe he wanted the moon to consume the sun.

when an albatross flies overhead

Maybe he was squinting at the stars

but the albatross asked a beak-full of my bucket

that night and the houses that sat below—

and now its beady little eyes are jewels in my neck

like little Legos among dark cypress trees and their shadows waiting for the touch of the sky.

I performed a bloody baptism for the world one scavenger replaces another

I can see what you saw, Van Gogh.

this was a long time coming

Some days the stars do look as if I’m

from the day the axe-maker made this blade

looking at streetlights with my glasses off. (I only take them off when I’ve seen enough.)

and said: let there be

And the night sky swirls like a fizzy bath bomb—

the cycle of life

white foam combining with blue—a blue close to the shade of dusk filled with my mother’s screams

all blood that isn’t yours

calling my name, calling me home.

is worth spilling.

People find fault with everything though— even the mechanics of the moon, the stars and a drunk sky. They say: “The starry night is astronomically not correct.” As if anything in this world ever is.


The Dining Table I often told my mother we should sell it: a long glass table and four surrounding chairs, taking up all the room so we could celebrate our sauces and syrups in a royal fashion. They sat crusting at the center of the glass top so we knew exactly where to find the ketchup when we took the food to our room. Yet on some days, I could fathom the appeal— my father liked someplace fancy to put down his teacup as he screamed on some call. And my mother liked having her lone place at the head of the table where she ate her breakfast each morning at seven. I remember cutting my hair underneath its glass roof when I first discovered scissors, and then sobbing against its legs when my mother saw the massacre. Spending my gold-plated childhood carving my name on its wooden legs and spraying Lysol all over the glass, just because I liked the smell. When I outgrew the house and moved a few continents away I told my mother we should sell it. Experiment with the empty space—make it new. After years of practice, she unheard me most skilfully. The next day she placed new scratchy tablemats and yellow plastic flowers on the glass top.


Wandering Egypt

— Maryam Refai 30





As the Disco Ball Taunts the Ceiling’s Dark — Hadiyyah Kuma

Half-done party Door’s cracked open And legs are chilled To a certain goosey grace You are on the phone With your coworker Backpack strewn like My messier-than-thou Mental illness and Other things up til 6 You’re communication So wireless it leaves me Careening all night I key away at leaving And though my roots Sit trembling upward I cannot make it for now I cannot make it tomorrow I cannot make it baby Without bodies on my back


sulfur scrapes the belly hungry — Jindi Zhang

You’re here with two close friends, lying on a bean bag in a warm house with a belly full of kimchi fried rice listening to Yaeji and reading Soft Silence by Franny Choi. “Make it rain girl, make it rain” is a sassy prayer, framing a conversation, you’ve taken a passenger seat to. It’s been a week since you’ve called your mom. You’ve been thinking about the ultimatum: Until you get a therapist, I will not call again. To watch your own mother become animal//is to watch your origin story//lose itself in the retelling To watch your own mother become animal//not in the rabid way//but to watch her languish in a repetitive focus//on things that only ask for soft relaxation To watch your own mother become animal//is to watch consumption//salivate in the self-devouring//unsure whether it is you or she that is being eaten It is a soft hurt You talked with your professor about softening more//about yielding//but soft hurt births hard bodies//and her out-of-control vulnerability drips//demanding to be caught//your softness cannot catch so well//we cannot both sag into the fabric of need in abundance, i wonder if this is what you came here for//to lose your child//To watch them wear the label Asian-American like a cloak//they are wallowing in//for you to be swallowed into a suburban home for twenty-years//do you still wake up breathless to go somewhere//is this what you came here for//they question//you smile// as if moving is ever intentional//as if sometimes we are not just running does a tree fall in a//forest//dreadfully still and alone//if//and no one was around to hear//but somewhere//in a parallel universe//there is a forest//and in this one//its descent shatters the planet// and it was earsplitting//and it was heartbreaking// and it was devastating//and the people cried and bore witness what do you say to the person who starts in a place of aggrievement//furled fists always give away too much//as if it is wrong for a star to burst forth angry//knowing sometimes it is only in its rage that it is able to stay burning//who are we eager to forgive?//maybe you came out of the womb furious at everything your mother had swallowed the way it had been acid in her stomach //and the way she had carried it



— Joy Zheng

38 38




When we first began to imagine the publication that has today become SALVE, I was beyond excited—but I was also a little unsure of what it would mean to dedicate a magazine to the creations of artists and writers of colour. I’d been inspired by frustration at seeing how few of the amazing creators of colour I’d gotten to know over these past few years were being featured in the mainstream publications and galleries on campus. As both a contributor and an editor, I’d seen how writing by POC about their experiences were constantly judged by the standards of whiteness—how well they worked next to white poems, how clever they made white readers feel. I wanted to create a space for our work to exist on its own terms, to be true to its own experiences. I wasn’t prepared for the quality of submissions we received. My main worry had come from not wanting this publication to be some sort of monument to misery, a collection of all the myriad ways the world lets down creators of color every day. Instead, I saw what you’ve seen today: beautiful examples of the vitality, ingenuity, and vibrancy of youth in-between cultures, creating something entirely new. In such uncertain times, the work in this magazine speaks to the great capability and creativity of a new class of hybrid identity creators—this spirit of hybridity and expression contains what seems to me to be the best aspects and possibilities of our contemporary moment. It has been a privilege to be involved with SALVE, and I will carry the memory always. I’d like to thank Western University’s Arts and Humanities Students’ Council for funding the project, our brilliant contributors for sharing their courage and creativity, and my partner Ashna Thaya for her relentless dedication to making SALVE as honest and compelling as possible. And thank you, too, reader, for letting us into your lives.

Love, Rose