art

First Six Months in Pune

I left for India at the end of August and started working pretty soon after reaching. To say it’s been a whirlwind would be an understatement. Sunday, September 2nd got me to Bombay and already on Monday I was headed to Pune. I met with my boss Mrs. Rakhi Singh that day itself and I knew I’d be right at home. She speaks really fast like me and is managing a million things at once all the time. I described her after my first phone call as a cool mom and I was going to be just fine in this new city. Off I went to the Kalyani Nagar location and just entering the school put me at instant ease, I found a school I truly believed in and it almost validated my choice to move half way across the world to a new city I had never been to before. The next day I was headed back to Bombay to meet with the CEO and chairman. I got hired for one job, got kinda trained for another, and within a short few months got a promotion to working in the regional and head office. Currently I don’t know what my exact title is, but I am setting up the environments for the new schools and quality assurance. 

So, India definitely does not make it easy for someone who was not born on their land to enter or settle down. I honestly don’t know how I figured it all out on my own. 

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Finding an apartment was another challenge. No one would rent to me as a single female from America. My aunt forced me to come visit and we got an airbnb. She ended up finding something within one day and I am absolutely in love with my flat. The warm sunshine wakes me up every morning and that morning glow every single day is gorgeous. It’s a two and a half bedroom flat with two terraces on the eighth floor. The half bedroom I use as my studio and I have one guest bedroom as well. It was really hard for me to accept help at first, but honestly if you don’t want to adapt then you shouldn’t even live in India. I feel as though I am still adjusting to life in India, but I have come a long way. The journey has been one that I think I needed to prove to myself. 

One of the harder aspects of life in India was all the unwanted attention I was receiving and still do. At first it really did bother me, but I guess I did get used to it or just stopped letting it bother me. That intense male gaze is something no one should have to endure every single time one steps foot outside of their house. But you know what? Even females stare. 

Making friends has been another obstacle to overcome. The way I would make friends elsewhere is really really different. I also came to the realization a few months ago that I put up a wall and don’t let people in which is why people may not approach me. Still the friends I have made are quality ones. The kind of friends who will bring you vada pav at work first thing in the morning after needing to soak up the alcohol from the night before. India is one of the warmest most welcoming places you will ever visit. Now, Pune is a little less welcoming to outsiders - that is true. The only people’s houses I have been to here are Gujarati’s, but I guess India as a whole is the kind of place where people will go out of their way to help. 

Work is a combination is spontaneity, stress, crazy, and a whole lot of fun! My job recently has been building and creating things for the environment anyway I want! How cool is that!? I go shopping in old Pune every now and then and come back pretty inspired. India has always been my biggest inspiration. It has evolved into retelling a story through a moment or experience through my travels. But, something about being in India has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. Something about the energy and colors leaves me with endless ideas to create. Now, my job in in India is actually making things and that to WITH help is like a dream come true. I am often counting my blessings and eternally grateful. I have said this in the past, but when you put that good energy out in the universe I believe the universe has got your back. It has been true for me time and time again. 

Threads by Tea X Studio Strata

There are some people out there who just bring people together. My dear friends Eliezer Santiago and Tiphani Benbow are those people. I’m not even sure how it came up in conversation, but I’m sure it was related to the fabric I was designing - Elie mentioned “you’ve got to meet my friend Tea.” So there we were at Koffee? On Audobon St in New Haven and I just felt like it was the right moment for all of this creative energy to meet. Tiph and Elie ended up buying a one way ticket to Thailand, but Tea and I have continued to grow and develop both our friendship, but also this collaboration. 

With a tag line of wearable art created to empower and inspire, I knew this was the perfect fit of a designer for me to work with. 

Upon meeting Tea, I felt like I was taken aback by this air of coolness that engulfs the space he takes up. As we have continued to get to know each other and continue our “business meetings” we have really grown into forming a beautiful friendship. A friendship and partnership of designer and his muse. His humble nature paired with a presence that just makes a statement wherever he goes is something to reckon with. We make a good team. I think I’m a little more outgoing with making the connections and networking where as Tea literally has to do nothing and it just happens automatically. 

I can’t exactly remember when we met or how he picked out some fabric to buy from me, but it just always flowed nicely. He’s bought many yards of fabric from me now over time and I’m always playing a game of “where’s waldo?” But instead “where’s studio strata?” with searching for my fabric. 

Recently, we both attended the Essence Streetstyle Festival in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for New York Fashion Week. Tea and another friend Jason were both wearing outfits designed and constructed by Tea with Studio Strata fabric. I threw on a Threads lace cardigan with my Erica Zapp necklace, and hat from a clothes swap and was ready to take on this event in the dreary grey rain. Damn, did we make a statement and a little bit of noise. We were getting stopped all over the place for people to photograph us. At first I definitely felt a little shy, but a little bit into the event I think I found my groove and got into it. 

Billowing Textiles

The textiles I have been working on started in India a few years ago. I used my same monotype process, but instead of adding paper to the plexi plate I added a sheer fabric called georgette. When I started this project in India I had this vision. I wanted the fabric to drape and dance along the wall. Well, I couldn’t pierce any holes into the wall so I had to hang them instead. Since then I have had the opportunity to continue to play with the textiles. I still needed to figure out how to make my installation to get some good pictures in order to propose to galleries and museums. 

Then one day I met Chelsea Suddes from Pearl Weddings. We were working on a styled shoot for a magazine together - The Perpetual You. Chelsea has got to be one of the most genuine kind hearted people I have ever met. She was putting together a moody/ethereal styled shoot and the color of my textiles were totally on par with the color scheme. I was a little apprehensive about going because I was afraid everyone was going to love love and just be too happy. Well they did love love but, each vendor brought together was so talented in their medium. Mike Suddes helped me install the fabric and the floral designer from Pine and Petal added the perfect touch of pink cherry blossoms to finish off the display. 

Vendors:

Venu: www.mylittleladiesfarmanddesign.com

Planning & Design Coordination: www.pearlweddingsandevents.com

Photographer: www.rowanberrylavender.com

Veil: www.aevamade.com

Textiles: www.meghanshah.com

Hair & Makeup: www.alluretravelingbeauty.com

Florals: www.pineandpetal.com

Catering: www.riverhousecatering.com

Videographer: www.newenglandcreative.net

Models: Johnathan and Falak

Decorations & Stylist: Heart of Gold Decor Design

Side note… Mike Suddes is a singer song writer and has the most stunning soothing voice. I have been fortunate enough to see him perform a few times and I see a collab in our future. His original songs are the exact type of folk music I like to listen to while I create. I had my students listen to Blind Pilot last year and most of them got into while they sketched in their sketchbooks. One boy drew a demon because he hated the music so much. But, they all reacted to the music and that was the exact point of the lesson. 

Next, I decided to make a warm series of textiles. This just happened to be in the color scheme of an elopement styled shoot Chelsea was helping coordinate. Shaina Lee had this vision and Chelsea brought it to life. So, there we were the day after a hurricane at Yale University’s Harkness Tower about to bring magic to life. I’ll just let these pictures speak for themselves. This shoot had a few features including British Vogue and Let’s Bee Together!

 

Vendors:

Photographer: Shaina Diaz Photography

Planner & Designer: Pearl Weddings & Events

Bridal Gowns: Gypsy Bride

Hair & Make up: Belle Noelle Beauty

Flowers: Fizz and Fluers

Signage: This Delightful Design

Cake : Cake Lore Co

Artist: Studio Strata

Furniture: Gather & Lounge

Models: Leesha & Andrew Wheeler

 

 

Flaquites, Vegan Tacos, and Homemade Bread

My relationship with Texas has been very specific. I have visited a few times over the years since my uncle and aunt lived there, but never really explored any of the cities as an adult. So, with given a February break from teaching a road trip was waiting for me in the shape of a triangle. The stops included Houston, Austin, and Dallas. 

Houston is indebted with a rich museum scene. I loved every second of it. The Menil collection is a really beautiful long space with an interesting collection. Right around the corner from there is the Rothko Chapel. Upon entering this non denominational chapel, you instantly feel at peace. Something about the floor to ceiling black and violet paintings giving way to a little light which enthralls you in quiet introspection. Rothko paintings always leave me with lingering thoughts, but the chapel itself I still have not been able to shake the feeling from the space. 

All the museums are concentrated in a little museum district area. It has a completely different feel from the suburbs of Houston. I could spend hours admiring the varying architecture going from street to street. The contemporary art museum had an exhibit I didn’t want to miss. It looks like this sliver of a aluminum corrugated slice. Downstairs was a series of photographs documenting the lgbtq scene in Dehli. When we got down there Nihar joked this exactly my Netflix account right now. But, I mean who isn’t watching Queer Eye!? No, I think he meant more the documentary How Gay is Pakistan? It’s a must watch and very eye opening. 

Somehow we seem to always end up at a sculpture garden and Houston was no exception. It was set in the middle of a downtown area so very industrial opposed to being set in grass or amongst the trees. 

The road trip continued onto Austin! 

We got stuck with rather cold and dreary weather in Austin, but that has always meant more time for indoor art. The Blanton Museum had this extensive Ellsworth Kelly exhibit going on inside as well as a new structure that had just opened outside called “Austin”. It was one of those odd shapes with a few color spectrums. I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about it, but it was interesting even with gray rainy light pouring through. 

Last couple days ended in Dallas.

We visited this amazing sculpture garden called The Nasher. Everything about it was just what you need from sculpture garden. I used some of the images for a lesson back at school. The kids were especially inspired by some of the Picasso's and Richard Sera's. 

 

 

Inside the Road

 

During my one month at Chhaap, I was given the chance to just focus on making art. I could make as little or as much as I desired. Having unlimited time to create made my ideas flow organically and in return kept me continuously inspired. I created a body of work that I can say I am truly proud of.

This was the first time I was my own critic. Back in America I usually work in a group setting or always have someone who is giving me honest feedback. In India, I had to be my own critical eye. I got most of my prints to a place of being finished. My work unveiled a new cohesive theme and everything came together with little difficulty.

After the second week, a road emerged and I had the rest of my work go in that direction. Inside the road refers to the fortunate events that lead me back to India. It talks about the actual roads I witness in India. All of the organized chaos I get to experience when I step out in a rickshaw, motorcycle, car or by foot. My first inspiration lies within my upbringing as an American Indian. It has been fascinating to see how my work has evolved since physically being in India.

The prep for my show was pretty easy. That’s the beauty of India, I felt like my life was just a little bit easier. There are people to deliver the frames to the gallery. There was a team of three people to install the show. And the gallery coordinator was very easy to work with and never showed any signs of stress. We had a senior artist from Ahmadabad inaugurate the show, Amit Ambalal. He walked through the entire gallery and asked questions about each piece of work and gave me thoughtful praise. He asked me if I listened to music while printing because there is a lyrical movement to how the prints work. I enjoyed all he had to say and explaining how I arrived at the final product.

The opening was filled with people and I was bouncing from group to group explaining the inks, process, and imagery. A lot of media coverage came to the opening as well. I think my count so far is about 6 articles in various news sources. I even got interviewed to be on TV! I gave a full interview in Gujaratii. I was definitely proud of my self for that one. I continued to gallery sit over the next few days and a good crowd came each day.

Back in America, I was chosen to be the contributing artist for the April edition of The Perpetual You. They are doing a challenge for the month of April and today is to create a doodle. Feel free to participate by tagging The Perpetual You in your post (#thirtydaysofpurpose or #theperpetualyou)