Congratulations to first-year Graphic Design graduate student Sumanma Wadhwa! Her research “Breastfeeding – Taboo or Celebration?” has been recognized three times this year by CSU. In November, she presented at the Graduate Student Showcase and was awarded a $500 scholarship in the Creative and Performing Arts. This award qualified her for the 3 Minute Challenge where top candidates become VPR Fellows and have access to travel scholarships, mentoring and professional development. This past weekend, on Saturday, May 7th, Wadhwa shared to the details of her new research/creative abstract to CSU Speaks, an interdisciplinary conference that encourages graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, staff scientists, and professors across the university to present their work to the public in an easily accessible presentation.

“Sumanma Wadhwa’s international research reveals divergent and shared interests in society through her concentrated study of cultural norms,” says graphic design professor John Gravdahl, “Traditional visual expressions are compared in the process. Using contemporary methods of applied research, she will use this foundation to inform her own communications related to the subject. It is an encouraging example of Design Practice used as an active agent for social transformation.”

Research Synopsis

Breastfeeding is a physiological concept as old as life itself. Unfortunately, since the mid-19th century, several factors influenced the rise of taboo upon breastfeeding. These factors include sexualization of breasts, racism, and rise of the commercial food industry. The distaste for public breastfeeding in America increased so much by the end of the 20th century that it took until 2018 for all 50 states to legalize public breastfeeding. My experiences of living in 3 different continents has led me to evaluate and create a social campaign which aims to create an awareness towards public breastfeeding and celebrate the beauty and naturalness of breastfeeding. Briefly, my work here includes an advertisement style campaign which will portray the openness of breastfeeding and its celebration through posters, jewelry designs, merchandise, sculptures, and paintings. Through this campaign, I intend to use my designs at different sources and create awareness among public regarding breastfeeding. The awareness I am hoping to create will tell people that breastfeeding needs to be accepted gracefully, celebrated for its naturalness, have a sense of pride in women who can breastfeed in public, and eventually it is accepted as a natural part of life like breathing. I believe that breastfeeding represents a part of a larger gender gap and inequality problem and through my art and my designs, in future campaigns, I intend to create an awareness not just towards breastfeeding but other women’s rights issues like maternity leave, equal pay and opportunities in the workplace, and patriarchy.