Sri Kodakalla: Identity and Community Connection
Sri Kodakalla is a South Indian-American mixed-media artist, writer, and arts organizer based in Charlottesville, Virginia, currently exploring fiber art, printmaking, and poetry. Kodakalla works and volunteers in several local arts organizations, focused on serving the creative growth of BIPOC artists and youth. She is the co-director of the Feminist Union of Charlottesville Creatives (FUCC) and is a renting member of McGuffey Art Center, co-chairing the Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee. Her work has been shown in various exhibitions throughout the Charlottesville area.
Her recent creative work explores symbols of identity and their relation to personal understandings of ownership (in claiming who we are, shaped by how we create meaning from the world around us). She uses non-linear storytelling to speak to the disparities of owning identity–often informed by her experience as a first generation immigrant. Her work of late expresses a reverence and abundant curiosity for the interconnection of human beings and the natural world. Her study of these relationships evokes a sense of mysticism in the seemingly mundane.
I’ve always been drawn to activism, advocacy, and social justice work. I feel highly motivated by facilitating opportunities for intimate connections between people and the resources within their communities. A big part of my life and what I strive to do is to create spaces for people to feel not only safe, but welcomed and encouraged for the diversity of their experience. In both my creative work and my professional / vocational work, I am drawn to supporting the growth of individual identity and ownership of that identity. It’s something that I have long worked toward for myself and am still working toward in many ways. It feels increasingly important to me to create supportive networks where people feel they and their work are valued and appreciated, and that their individual voice is not only worth sharing, but also necessary to be heard.
While I could easily speak to the nature of my creative work and often do, I don’t talk about the social or community-engaging work I do within the arts community. I only recently have started to feel at home in Charlottesville and a large contributing factor to that has been through being connected to the local arts community, through McGuffey Art Center, The Bridge PAI, Visible / Records, and The Feminist Union of C’ville Creatives (FUCC).
During COVID-19, I’ve gotten an opportunity to engage or connect with community organizers, social advocates, and local arts organizers. It’s not something that I would have ever imagined would have come out of this time, but I feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity to develop and deepen connections to the arts community here and more specifically with The Bridge PAI, with which I feel like my journey has only just started.
Since last April, my close friend Ramona Martinez and I began reinvigorating or reanimating FUCC into an organization that felt like it could do something tangible during the pandemic, through organizing open calls for artists and the creation of a new radical art zine, MALA LECHE. While initially these ideas came out of an intention to get our arts community active, it became much more than that. These opportunities represented a voice or a platform for many first-time artists and writers from the Central Virginia area as well as have encouraged increased visibility in the arts community for woxmn, non-binary, and genderqueer artists. However, this is only the beginning for FUCC and for MALA LECHE — both Ramona and I have a lot of dreams for how we envision these to grow.
In February 2021, FUCC entered a fiscal sponsorship with The Bridge, in the hopes of not only better serving our already growing community but to also find new ways to collaborate with other local arts organizations. While this partnership is still so very new, it feels filled with a lot of excitement toward the potential of what we have the ability to create for the community. A big part of that revolves around valuing womxn, non-binary, and genderqueer artists through financially supporting their creative work and creating / encouraging opportunities for non-competitive creative growth.
I’m looking forward to future opportunities that come my way to work with The Bridge through FUCC, McGuffey Art Center, or on behalf of myself as an artist.
Visit Sri at her website www.srikodakalla.com or her Instagram @dystopian_conditionals. To learn more about FUCC and MALA LECHE, visit their website www.heyfucc.com or their Instagram @heyfucc.