KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Visual Arts [R]
Artist Statement: 547 words [R]

Three Artworks

by Devi S. Laskar

Untitled close-up photograph of stones (October 2015) by Devi S. Laskar
Untitled photograph of stones (11 October 2015)

Copyright © by Devi S. Laskar. All rights reserved.



Another brick in the wall: photograph (February 2015) by Devi S. Laskar
Photograph: Another brick in the wall (11 February 2015)

Copyright © by Devi S. Laskar. All rights reserved.



Red arches: digital art (July 2017) by Devi S. Laskar
Digital art: Red arches (1 July 2017)

Copyright © by Devi S. Laskar. All rights reserved.


—Artworks are reproduced here with artist’s permission from her Facebook galleries.

Artist Statement: Devi S. Laskar

Nearly nine years since Georgia state police raided my house at gunpoint and confiscated, among other things, my laptop computer. A Georgia state judge dismissed the baseless charges against my husband in October 2016.*

But my belongings have not been returned.

To this day I’m without most of my work.

What does it mean for a poet to live with the literal loss of her words? In the big scheme of things, they are just words and I can always write more. However, it’s one thing to throw out your own words, to remove them with the pink eraser at the end of a pencil, to delete them from a computer screen using a cursor. It is different when the choice is no longer yours, when something is taken from you by force. I’d been writing since I was a child, poems and stories, creating characters and histories and futures. Journalism, for a long time, helped me hone my eye and my ear, really see and listen to other people’s stories and to understand their life struggles. I’ve always been a shutterbug of sorts, too, informally chronicling events and vistas, my family, things I find interesting or unusual. Much of that was also stored on my computer and is lost now, too.

Two things happened that precipitated my visual art: some friends told me about an artist who had painted a picture every day for a year and posted it publicly; and then others insisted I rent Julie & Julia. I marveled at the artist’s courage to post her work online, her dedication to her art; and I loved Julie Powell’s challenge to make every recipe in Julia Childs’ book in a single year. I had nothing left to lose, literally. So in June 2011 I began my own art-a-day challenge. The condition I imposed on myself: something new every day. I could cheat on the drawings and paintings by substituting photographs for them, as long as I took the photographs within that day.

Picture by picture, week by week, I was building myself up again. I spent a few minutes each day doing something that kept me at the margins of the art I had once created with words. My poetry came in handy as I had the pleasure of titling the art I submitted every day. The work evolved from amateur to something I am proud of: I’ve tried out different media, from acrylic to water colors to pencil, and I’ve taken photographs of pretty much everything I see around me as I travel or walk—or after my kid’s soccer practice. The act of making the art was a laser point of focus as I sold our house, packed up our things, said goodbye to my friends and our families, and moved across the country. I completed a second year of the art challenge, and a third, and a fourth. Now I’m more than halfway through my seventh year of #artaday. I can’t stop doing the one thing that sustains me. I can’t stop because it’s the thing that allows me to forgive the people who played politics with our lives. It helps me to move on, to be present in the world and see the beauty of life around me.



* Dr. Joy Laskar’s Story: #JusticeforJoy

Update: On the first of October 2018, Dr. Laskar filed suit in U.S. District Court against four former or current administrators at Georgia Institute of Technology for malicious prosecution stemming from the 2010 case, which was dismissed in its entirety in October 2016 by a Superior Court Judge in Atlanta. The State of Georgia has yet to return the Laskar family’s belongings.

Devi S. Laskar’s
Issue 11, Spring 2019

debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, was published by Counterpoint in February 2019. Based on traumatic events from the author’s life, the book explores what it means to be a woman of color in contemporary America, where state-sanctioned terrorism and institutionalized racism are still very much alive.

Finishing Line Press released two chapbooks of Laskar’s poetry in 2017: Gas & Food, No Lodging and Anastasia Maps. Her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, The North American Review, and Tin House, among others. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Meridian’s Best New Poets, and Best of the Net Anthology. She’s an alumna of TheOpEdProject, VONA/Voices of Our Nations, and poetry workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.

Her photographs appear in Tiferet Journal and Blue Heron Review, as well as on the cover of The Florida Review. A former journalist, Laskar covered crime and government for newspapers such as The Raleigh News & Observer (NC), The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA), and Gannett Company papers: The News-Press (FL), The Commercial-News (IL), and Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI). She holds an MFA degree from Columbia University in New York, an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a BA in journalism and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A native of Chapel Hill, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.

Artist’s website:

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

“I Believe That Silence Is Ineffective” Devi S. Laskar on Invisibility and American Terror, an interview by Ruth LeFaive in Longreads (February 2019)

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