If you meander downtown to the Lower East Side you might find Priyanka Voruganti (11) acting in one of Good Cap Arts’ studios’ three plays, curating an art gallery at Chinatown Soup, or writing a publication for sale at the New Museum.
Most of these activities focus on feminism, a topic that has been important to Voruganti since she was young, she said. “Feminism is just being a good person; believing that equality is effective and being considerate and empathetic and open-minded,” she said.
“I started acting because I started taking acting classes with this company, GoodCapp Arts. When high school came around, they were casting for the play Slut, and I auditioned and got in,” she said.
Slut is about the direct effects of rape culture or toxic masculinity in a community, Voruganti said. Voruganti believes the production illustrates the problems that anti-feminist behavior causes in society.
However, performing Slut can be scary, especially at schools, and the cast tends to receive rude responses and backlash, Voruganti said. During one of the shows at Andover for the freshman class, a lot of boys made clapping noises to drown out the dialogue, she said.
“We have a brother play called Now that We’re Men with an all-men cast that deals with masculinity, a topic that is just as important,” Voruganti said. “But when Now that We’re Men performs, no one disrespects them or says anything rude to them, even though we’re talking about the same issues, which I find shocking and disturbing.”
Additionally, Voruganti acts in A Day in the Life, and One Click Away, which discuss sex trafficking.
Voruganti’s interest in feminism also extends to the literary world. “I started writing poetry on my own and eventually decided to take it more seriously, and now I’m a bi-weekly writer for an online publication called Speciwomen,” she said. Voruganti has her own column at Speciwomen which focuses on self-identifying females, and she wrote the foreword for their first print issue, which can be found at the Brooklyn Museum and the New Museum bookstores, she said.
“I don’t always write about feminist issues, since often I submit poetry that’s just about my life, but coming from a brown female girl, I think in every column I write there’s a bit of feminism in there,” she said. “I really like the narrative of the female poet and I think that’s it’s inherently feminist, unless you’re a female misogynist, which I don’t think exists.”
Voruganti has been interning at a downtown art gallery called Chinatown Soup since eighth grade and began by working with an artist in residence named Ashley Yang Thompson, she said. In 10th grade, she curated a show called Soon: South Asian Evocations and Becomings. The gallery was centered around technology and the future with South Asian artists, Voruganti said.
“I’m not a visual artist; I don’t paint or draw, but I like looking at and analyzing art,” Voruganti said. “Working at a gallery is the perfect place for me because I get to help really creative people and be inspired by them,” she said.
Voruganti also worked with another collective called South Asia Arts. “There were about 100 people there and artists from all over the world sent us their work.”. She will be curating another show in June, she said.
Feminism is extremely important to Voruganti since gender is a huge part of her identity, which encouraged her to pursue these various galleries and productions, she said.
“Everyone knows what feminism is; by now, we’ve eroded the concept that it means ‘obliterate men,’” she said. “No one is born to hate. People learn to hate, and that’s something that feminism can start to change.”