Baxter St, in partnership with YoungArts, presents a solo exhibition by Zayira Ray featuring portrait photographs that explore notions of belonging, love, and kinship in Brown diasporic communities. The culmination of her 2024 YoungArts Baxter St Residency, this presentation showcases a new iteration of an evolving body of work spanning several years.

What I want for Shainon and Safina is that I give them the best upbringing... that they are able to study as much as they want, do whatever they want to do in life. We have decided that we will scrimp and save but we will make that possible for them. That is what we want. What they want to do when they grow up, who knows?”

Maya and Sujata, from Chattisgarh and Jharkhand respectively, met in 1999 and now work together as caretakers of the artist’s elderly grandparents in their home in New Delhi.

“We always share everything. I help her out whenever she needs it, and she helps me when I need it. We don’t hide anything from each other. My daughter Safina calls Sujata “mama” and Shainon calls Sujata’s sons her big brothers. Everybody thinks we’re one family!”

Raised Sikh, Mannat and Sirat were born in Chandigarh, India and moved to Miami, Florida at age nine. The identical twins navigate their queer identities while working in the fashion industry and other creative fields in New York City.

Eva Ismail migrated from Bangladesh to New York City with her parents in the early 1990s. “I often felt like I led two lives: one at home and another outside...”

“Gender roles were deeply ingrained in our culture, but in my home today, they no longer define me and my husband. Through raising Noah, I aim to instill compassion for our community and all humanity while teaching him to express his emotions and pursue his passions confidently. Our love for exploring museums together strengthens our bond, allowing us to appreciate love and community through art.”

Misha Japanwala is a Pakistani artist and fashion designer whose practice, from molding people’s bodies to calligraphy, is rooted in shamelessness. Her calligraphic work takes the form of silhouettes of the body intertwined with Urdu script, reclaiming words and ideas that are used as weapons of shame and control. Misha’s work aims to create a new historical record and documentation of humanity: one that is on our own terms and is rooted in honesty, resistance and hope.

Created by two groups of four Palestinian-American women, the canvas backdrop turned “tapestry” acts as an embodiment of Palestinian community, solidarity, and remembrance in the face of profound loss, displacement, and erasure. 

With each indelible marking of “we were here,”  the canvas honors a dedicated physical space to Palestinian voices in a time of mass censorship. The lifecycle of the tapestry  stands as a testament to Palestinian existence: not only as a physical artifact, but also as a lifeform weaving together threads of memory, identity, and resistance. As layers of paint intertwine, so too do the narratives of past, present, and future.

The American-born Luckhoo-Labban sisters, Victoria and Evangeline, belong to the Indo-Caribbean diaspora, specifically from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago. They now live in New York City.

Shenny and Freny are Parsis (Zoroastrians) from Delhi. While navigating their queer partnership in India for 40 years, their relationship has been “difficult but blissful”. 

They have found their chosen family in the growing population of  stray dogs in India: rather than  passing their wealth to children, they self-fund  their collective initiative for feeding, providing for, and sterilizing dogs in need, focusing on densely populated and low income parts of New Delhi — Paharganj, New Delhi railway station, RK Ashram to name a few — that are in most dire need of aid, feeding on average 250 dogs a day.

Melika and Jasdeep are lovers and best friends. Melika is an Ecuadorian & Gujarati New Yorker and Jasdeep is a Punjabi-American Californian from Yuba City. They crossed paths at the Southern end of Mannahatta and continue to be partners in radical love and life.

Radha, Reena, Rohini, and Aarya have migrated globally from West Bengal to the United Kingdom. The shifting combinations of mother and daughter grandmother and granddaughter, the littlest and eldest: strong and soft characters constantly walk the tightrope of need and independence, nurture and rejection, challenge and acceptance - all the while not knowing where one individual begins and one ends... or whether there is a distinction at all.

Himalini met Santayan in Ahmedabad, India, and have been married for 25 years. Himanshu and Himalini are siblings whose parents both passed away in quick succession. Himanshu has cerebral palsy with an intellectual disability that requires support for all his daily functions. He is non-verbal, communicating only with his eyes.

Himalini and Santayan are not only Himanshu’s caretakers; they also run Thoughtshop Foundation from their home: a nonprofit that uses creative ways to transform lives of marginalized young people in Kolkata and villages of West Bengal.

Radha Ray holds a photograph of the three Bengali sisters: Indrani, Bani, and Radha, ages 14-17, depicted side by side.  The long-ago image is repurposed on a hand-embroidered velvet cushion, designed by her daughter, Reena. The sisters were photographed in a Calcutta studio, preserved in time around the end of the Second World War. Indrani was the youngest, Bani the eldest, but it is only Radha who remains.