Ariana Barat is an artist and activist who practices making as mediation. Barat describes her work as a form of alchemy, the transformation from pain to power, a hybrid of freedom and oppression as spoken through the centuries-old tradition of printmaking. She draws on imagery that connects the work to eastern iconography, specifically to the pantheon of deities from hinduism. Her artistic practice explores how the politics of tradition and craft are preserved, deconstructed, revised, and reimagined to create new stories and new possibilities for hope and healing. Accessing the past, present and future, the work is the ritual of remembrance depicting the tension, grief and mantric ecstasy experienced when reclaiming the body as a sacred site; the revolutionary act of recognizing ourselves as whole and sovereign. Barat describes her collaging of imagery as a form of “visible mending” which gives a language to the trauma of marginalization and provides a point of stillness to create spiritual reconciliation. Mending is resistance, an act of devotion, which confronts injustice, the abuse of power and its disposability of people and things; the handmade honors the maker. It raises critical questions concerning the continuation of colonialism, the politics of erasure and exclusion, it shows that we have and always will belong to ourselves, to our people, to our communities and to the earth.
As a printmaker, Barat has worked for the Brodsky Center, the Lower East Side Printshop, the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and the Glasgow Print Studio editioning work for bluechip artists such as Kara Walker and Chuck Close. She is the Manager of the Printmaking facilities at Parsons School of Design and holds a BA in Fine Arts from Rutgers University and has her MS from the New School in International Affairs with a concentration in Development and Economics. Her research centers on labor compliance regulations in the garment industry and market demand analysis for handicraft in the artisan sector. She has collaborated with the World Bank, UNHCR and USAID researching income generating opportunities for artisan enterprises in emerging economies. In May 2018 Barat served as a panel expert with the UN Global Compact for the Youth Fashion Summit, which is part of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the largest international conference on fashion and sustainability.
As master craftsman, Barat is an avid supporter of the handmade. She believes, "perhaps, as no other industry, craft is deeply involved with the most fundamental development agendas of our time: managing threats to the environment, promoting justice and equity and peace by bringing the deprived into the center of concern, empowering women through recognition of their craft roles and contributions, offering identity and confidence in an era threatened by globalized uniformity, providing sustainable livelihoods to households and communities in their own locations through the use of local resources, protecting them from the miseries of migration and leaving a light carbon footprint to address the threat of climate change. In other words, it is an industry that probably reflects, as no other, both the issues and the opportunities for sustainable development." - “Can Our Future be Handmade?” by Ashoke Chatterjee