Tell us about your background.
I was born in Mumbai, India and started out my career in finance and banking. It was pretty early on that I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I am the kind of person who loves philosophizing and working with my hands. A lot of introspection led me to take a sabbatical from my job and head on to London to study art. Once I came back to Mumbai, I worked for an auction house and started my studio practice simultaneously. My husband’s support and encouragement enabled me to become a full-time artist. In 2009, we moved to Chicago. My art community and my work has steadily been developing since.
Name some people, artists, artistic genres, etc. that have been influential in your work.
My inspiration comes from the daily and mundane and the struggle to survive. I love to read- books are a constant source of inspiration. I especially like for art to be in public spaces for everyone to interact with in everyday life. I feel like that moment when you break away, stop, stare and reflect is the most profound encounter of the day. Artists who work with themes of social change have been a great source of inspiration for my work. Van Gogh’s workers, Diego Rivera, Surendran Nair, Anish Kapoor, Os Gemos are some of the artists whose work I find inspiring.
Where and how do you get your ideas?
My current work explores labor and issues of language and literacy. My paintings are a social commentary on the division of society through the iconography of labor. Whilst I was in Mumbai my work was more narrative. My ideas evolved from the city and its people around me- forever in motion. I photographed constantly and these images of figures at work- lifting, pulling, pushing, heaving- form the starting point. Of late, my work has been evolving in a slightly different direction. The subject matter is still the same, though the art is more about how it makes me feel. In some sense it has the potential to be more poetic.
What materials do you work with? Describe your technical processes.
In my painting technique- I primarily use acrylics and layering. Language and text is a sub-narrative in my work that I insert in a variety of ways- sometimes though acrylic transfers, or a more freehand application through molding paste. I push medium through screens to create an off the canvas three-dimensional effect. I really enjoy experimenting with different media that is compatible and has texture. With my sculptures, I use found construction material like wood, bricks and house paint. I use graffiti pens to write on them. A lot of my sculptures have a high-gloss sheen finish to them to give them a feeling of preciousness.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being creative? What is the best part of being creative?
The most challenging part is sticking to a schedule. It is all too easy to slacken off and say ‘I’m not feeling creative today’. There are so many hindrances to studio time- personal, social, other commitments. I have to make sure that I treat it like a job or I would never get anything done. The best part is implementation of the idea. Just emptying my head of everything and working. I think the first stage in an artwork is setting up a problem and the rest is finding ways to resolve it. The latter is my favorite part. Isn’t that strange- the most challenging part is getting to the studio and the best part is being in it!
What advice would you give to someone seeking advice about being an artist?
There are so many things I learn everyday about being an artist. I it is a rare combination of perseverance, luck and skill that makes for a great artist and that only comes with time. So most importantly, stick with it. Build a community (not a network). No one ever became anything of import without having several people to thank for it. Be true to yourself. It is vital to look at things around you and be part of it all- but as important to look inside yourself and do it in your own way. Only then is there joy in it.
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