In 2020, ICAAD launched a new ARTivism initiative, a program to integrate the impacts and innovations of art and law to inspire greater public awareness and social action. This year, ICAAD named its inaugural ARTivist, Harbani Kaur Ahuja. Harbani is a public interest attorney committed to serving marginalized communities and advocating for human rights in all spaces. She has been involved in many legal, policy, legislative, and advocacy efforts, focusing on civil rights, immigrant rights, and public health. Harbani is also a writer who enjoys creating art through various mediums, including graphic design and poetry. Harbani’s creative work can be found in Her Name is Kaur: Sikh Women Write about Love, Courage, and Faith.
As an ICAAD ARTivist, Harbani is developing a project, entitled Dicta, that combines her love for the law and poetry, and seeks to unearth the essence of decisions by courts of law in order to illuminate the broader societal context in which they were written.
Over the coming year Harbani will compose 40 poems along four human rights themes selected by ICAAD — Women’s Rights, Rights of Black People, LGBTQI+ Rights, and Climate Change / Indigenous Rights. Her poems breathe fire into what can often be a difficult medium for lay audiences to penetrate.
ICAAD is pairing Harbani’s works with photos and the history around the court decisions, culminating in an interactive virtual exhibition of formative changes to the rule of law and civil and human rights.
The program will inspire lawyers to partner with ICAAD to create a more equitable future, as well as to educate and inspire the general public in the U.S. to better understand the timelessness of civil rights issues, and the importance of engaging in legal activism.