Grishma Shah headshot

Grishma Shah

Grishma Shah, feminist right out of the womb and an amputee at the age of eighteen. With a Doctorate in Community Psychology and a Master’s degree in Public Health, Grishma would like to be known for being an Artist. Click here to read and click here to hear about her journey.

Even at an early age, Grishma understood the power of storytelling. From the moment she awoke to the time she lay in bed waiting to enter a world of dreams, she was surrounded by stories. Every dance, painting, spice, emotion carried with it a story yearning to be shared with the world. But to her surprise, some stories ended up in a story graveyard while others found loving homes in Hollywood and Bollywood, or high end restaurants, galleries and museums. To build a bridge between storytelling and community awareness, Grishma decided to become an Artist. She believes through this platform, she can help stories reached their full potential and evoke cultural change so new narratives about beauty can be accepted.

As a Visual Artist, Grishma paints to share her experiences of being a South Asian woman. Her painting style goes beyond traditional elements having dimensions of texture and asymmetry, asking audiences to reflect deeper about standards of beauty and the human experience of disability. Her paintings have been exhibited at The Harold Washington Library, The Skokie Public Library, The Chicago Symphony Center, DuPage Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Cultural Center and Navy Pier, to name a few. As an Entertainment Psychologist, Grishma focuses on the impact of cultural messaging. She consults with organizations in Hollywood and champions for underrepresented stories and storytellers. With ten years of experience in the film festival circuit as Co-director and Film Programming Manager, Grishma also helps filmmakers and film festivals attract wider audiences through DEIA initatives.

In 2021 while completing her PhD, Grishma advocated for accessible and digestable dissertations as traditionally the stories and suggested research findings are reserved for the academic world. Putting community education first, her dissertation titled “The South Asian Perspective(s): Desi & Disabled” is the first of its kind in the field of Community Psychology to be in the form of an audio story/podcast with transcripts that are screen reader accessible. Her alma mater is NOW one of few instutions that allow students the opportunity to disseminate research dissertations in alternative formats. Additionally in 2021, Grishma received a 3Arts Residency Fellowship at the University of Illinois Chicago where she explored how disabled people think about their legacies, “Life After Death". In 2022, the 3Arts Disability Culture Leadership Initiative series invited Grishma for an artist talk. In the talk Grishma explains how beauty and power in feminism can be a form of activism that dismantles harmful outdated narratives, supporting collective action and healing.

Featured Artworks

  •  Grishma Shah artwork A collage of mixed media paintings of women.
  •  Grishma Shah artwork Exhibit of "A South Asian Perspective" A living document in artistic form, "A South Asian Perspective" shares experiences of South Asian culture, gender norms and disability.
  •  Grishma Shah artwork Multiple artwork from "A South Asian Perspective" decorate a gallery wall. A young white boy is deep in thought as he looks at a painting of a young girl of color. She is wearing ethnic clothing and is smiling with her eyes closed as she is dreaming of the adventures she will have. Perhaps they share similar dreams.
  •  A painting of a goddess with 3 arms. The same painting slightly angled suggests the goddess originally had 4 arms. Exhibit of "BAD(A$$) Identities"

    An exhibit exploring how some identities are considered Bad while others are considered BadA$$ - The above painting is of a goddess with 3 arms. The same painting slightly angled suggests the goddess originally had 4 arms. This artwork asks us to explore our relationship with Disability. Does an amputation make the goddess (or a person) less attractive?

  •  - (Left) a robotic arm, a woman aging (Middle) and a yogi with a leg prosthesis (Right) Bad(A$$) Identities Three paintings explore various intersecting identities.
  •  Grishma Shah artwork A Flyer of a Virtual Event called "Legacy & Lasting Impressions".

    As a 3Arts/Bodies of Work fellow, Grishma invites the community to converse with her about Legacies & Lasting Impressions. ​Questions to explore: Do disabled artists consider their legacy when creating new work? How will society remember us? How do we want to be remembered?

  •  Grishma Shah artwork "Desi & Disabled" Podcast Dissertation

    Twelve storytellers explore how South Asian culture impacts their sense of worth and belonging.